Tuesday, December 02, 2003

b on b

Yes it is indeed this strange effect of the datestamp that makes dailiness an imperative. Even after a year, the drive to post here remains, so we haven't had to procure the missing muse by potions or affirmations or athletic disciplines at dawn. And blogging for boynton has always seemed reader-centred. This may well be an illusion. Commenting makes it official. Perhaps its something about validating the public voice, a bow to the audience. When “commenting is temporarily offline” audience functionality is switched off, the dynamic is dead, the theatre dark.

boynton was reflecting again on writing and blogging the other night while sitting in the theatre. A year of linking and thinking fast and associatively, of scanning and surveying threads has had some benefits.(as well as the expected drawbacks) Seems to have sharpened the attention span in a good way. Do I now read all things as essentially multi-layered - with links nesting in the wings? Show us the data. It's not so much about narrative linearity but complexity. If there's no layering you can feel shortchanged.
On the other hand, watching Helen Morse sing some Sondheim moved miss b to tears. Nothing beats the human heart of theatre.

Comments: b on b

Hmmm... the date stamp thing is certainly a way of structuring time. BEFORE MIDNIGHT I have to post. Keep the unbroken line going on the calendar.. or if I post AFTER MIDNIGHT, I've done the next day already..

It should be the most undisciplined form. Rant and fire off into the digital unknown. And yet it creates its own discipline very fast. It makes me competitive, to my utter surprise. No slacking. Use argument like other people. Be brief like other people. Cultivate a quiet voice, like you..

Attention getting. Yes, surely. I want attention. When I feel depressed I imagine myself stupidly wasting my time on stuff that nobody reads.. to get attention, I have to do something THEY want.. but who? Absolutely reader centred.

And immediacy. YES. Everything else I do is sooooo slow.

The result? every day I read a large amount of fine writing. Often from people I disagree with totally - so invigorating. It is so fascinating because its completely organic. No marketplace, no editors, no critics, just an impromptu swirling community...

I have no idea where its going. But I know its important.
Posted by David at December 2, 2003 02:59 PM

"It is important" - an affirmation for bloggers.
(btw liked that found "blogger's prayer" you posted the other day)
I try to resist the competitiveness, because that (reality) was something from which I was escaping.
Nick Piombino has often talked of this. Collaboration is an alternative ideal.
Having said that you do pick up tricks of the trade. Brevity is certainly up there. One link per post is probably a good rule of thumb - but I keep breaking it. Compulsively.
Think I'm the only one who clicks through my links but that's ok. It's also a personal log of favourites, or possible ideas.
It's reader centred - like it always has been?
Writing for theatre has to be. But keeping that essential balance. Not chasing/spruiking. I'll take the low stats thanks.
And yep - it's this "amateurism" or organic content, free from the marketplace, or even bureucratic sales pitch, or treatment, that makes it exciting.
Posted by boynton at December 2, 2003 03:19 PM

I've been thinking a lot about the effects of blogging on writing, while I've been working on an essay. The upside has been the feedback I've received when I've "thought aloud" on the blog- people, as always, are generous beyond all possible expectations with offering feedback and advice. It's also good to have to check in everyday, to make yourself accountable to an audience.

However, I did notice that I struggled a great deal when actually writing up the essay, particularly in terms of creating a cohesive whole. I kept writing short, discreet paragraphs that in no way linked to what came before and what was to follow. This could partly have been a general "out-of-practiceness" with the whole academic essay genre, but I can't help but think it's something more, something blog-related. I've become very comfortable with writing short paragraphs on single subjects, then moving on to the next topic. It was a real struggle to stop doing it.

So now I'm wondering if blogging is teaching me bad habits...
Posted by mcb at December 2, 2003 04:08 PM

I didn't elaborate on the possible ill-effects, mcb. I could say it's a bit of the pollyanna today, but it may just as likely be the addict-in-denial speaking.
Too awful to contemplate.
I haven't had to write in that genre myself for a while, but always struggled "against coherency". I always became sidetracked by the marginalia -the footnotes and the tangents.
I once heard a playwright saying that "new media" had informed him greatly on "old media" - that writing for the web had taught him spatial writing and had loosened up his theatrical thinking. However this wasn't in regard to blogging, which is a strange hybrid thing of content(original writing) and community(reading/linking)
Perhaps the question could be - are these habits neccessarily bad?
I must say though I'm always 'relieved' to find theatre (or longer forms of narrative) still does it. (Or, indeed, RL.)
Posted by boynton at December 2, 2003 05:16 PM

Ramble alert, and none of the following can be backed up by the meticulous research of the august Ponds Institute.

I blog therefore I am ... putting off something that I HAVE to do (like now when I should be pencilling up the Mercury cartoon due for faxing tomorrow).

What does it for me is:-
[a] immediacy (the fact that while commenting I disconnected the laptop from the mains and the telephone line and typed this into Notepad as the weather blew its winds and cracked its cheeks overhead bears testimony to immediacy.)
[b] feedback/communication/exchange
[c] information
and additions, combinations and permutations of the above shortlist.

As a lad in the country back-blocks the phone was not a ready means of communication. One long ring and two short led you to Mrs. Maclean manning the spaghetti of plugs of switch board, listening in for local gossip. She was known to join in conversations much to the surprise of Mrs Combine-Harvester who was pumping Mrs. Wool-Classer for the good oil on why young Lucy Hereford-Cross had to suddenly leave for a 6 month holiday in the big smoke.

Most of my long distance communications were by letter. I had a raft of pen-pals.

At one level blogging for me is an extension of that early embedded practice but with the advantage of immediacy. On t'other hand responses in comments boxes don't come with brightly coloured stamps from exotic locations. Belgian Congo, Helvetia and French Equatorial Africa, countries that put 1950's Australia way down on the Richter scale of philatelic design. Did the 50 quetzal toucan stamp move for you too? Did it for me.

Whilst I'm not philosophically averse to reading blogs with opinions with which I disagree, I gravitate to blogs that share broadly similar views to me. Cutting across that is my rule that to grab my undivided attention and loyalty a blog needs be articulate, interesting, light-heartedly serious and seriously light-hearted. I have noted a couple well on the right of my warm and fuzzy but sceptical leftish lean. Shared experiences, an added advantage.

Truncates ramble.

I could go on, but the blessed three fingered muse has just lit upon my shoulder bearing an idea for this week's cartoon for The Mercury. Get it down on paper toot sweet before my already feeble attention span loses its grip on the zimmer frame.
Posted by Sedgwick at December 2, 2003 06:41 PM


I recently received an email from a pommie blogger who is arriving soon in Oz. Has been here before. He had stayed in our suburban neck of the woods and had visited my old home town, visiting a winery run by a family we know ... the genesis of blogging interraction.

2-3 degrees of blogging separation.

Is going to give me a ring after he arrives to organise a drink or a meal.

So it's not all virtual.
Posted by Sedgwick at December 2, 2003 07:05 PM

I've been puzzling over that word "competitive." It's not right because there's no victory or even any attempt to measure anything. It is just about standards.

I think our beloved Sedgwick is blogging more for himself, partly because he already has an immediate commentary form - the cartoon.

Whereas for me, who has always been paid to write (badly - the money I mean) on films I don't control, this thing which I own is deadly serious. And I push myself acccording to standards I get from other people.

It's such a fascinating form, just by itself. Sets of connections - day to day, item to item, link to link, feeling to feeling... nuff heavy. lightness is all. I need gin.
Posted by David at December 2, 2003 07:44 PM

Sedgwick - such wonderful rambling. Thank you.
That back-blocks paragraph deserves its own post -(at the very least) so striking is the imagery.
Love the 'spaghetti plugs of switchboard'. What kind of meta pasta is this - can it be imagined?
Always wanted penpals as a child, but this is better - a sort of laissez-faire, open range clustering of nodes in the meta-geography of 'blogland'. It would certainly be good to have some sort of stamp to announce graphically one's location (however that is defined)
The lovely icons of Lime Tree's blogroll come close to that.

'light-heartedly serious and seriously light-hearted.' very pinchable for alt motto, or should that be "mission statement"

David - I think I misunderstood your "competitive"
(being the goose again) - seems you meant 'against yourself' - which is that positive thing of 'pushing yourself' to better things.
Me too, and it's puzzling sometimes what it is about this medium that motivates such seriousness (when an off the cuff post about the weather works just as well )
But then you read something somewhere that takes it deadly seriously and it inspires.
Meanwhile a fierce electrical storm storms outside...
Posted by boynton at December 3, 2003 12:38 AM

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