22 September 2006

Definitions

After Stephanie’s attemptto refine a definition of “blog”, danah boyd is today fighting the good fight with terminology, and more particularly the term “social networking site”, commonly used in print media. She points out that only adults use those terms, young people prefer to refer to the sites they use by name. I have noticed the same trend amongst young Irish bloggers, who refer to their LiveJournal, or their Bebo, not their blog or their social networking site/page. Danah proposes to continue the use of social network, and to refuse the verb which, she says, hints at voluntary search for new and unknown internet users, raising once again the fear of predator in the mind of the media/parents.

These posts are very timely for my own research, as I am struggling with terminology in the first part of my literature review. For the supervisor’s whip has been raised, and write I must. Preferably now. Instead of writing a blog post. Which I rarely do, unless I have a deadline…

04 September 2006

Metablogging - Endings

A week-end spent browsing my favourite blogs revealed the announced end of two of them, both Irish blogs: Blank Paige has been blogging for a year; she started as a bet to herself (and her doubting sister) that she could sustain the discipline of daily writing. Now, a year later, she intends to stop:

I hope that you will excuse my discontinuing as a blogger. I genuinely don’t feel worthy of the description owing to my lack of original talent.

This seems to be a very personal view on her writing, certainly not shared by her readers/commentators, who protested in the comments box. Interestingly, some suggested that she "reinvent herself" and start a new blog (with a new identity?).

At the same time, another blogger, also Irish, also a woman, decided to put an end to three years of blogging, and successful blogging at that (she received last year's Best Personal Blog Award at the Irish Blog Awards). That Girl decided it was Time for a Change and will only maintain her business blog, leaving more time for her PhD research.

Both of them dedicated a post, their last one, to a farewell message and explanation of their decision. In both cases, it seems to be a genuine concern for the readers, a sense of responsibility for the blog, and not a subtle fishing for compliments. However, many other bloggers just end their blogs with a wimper, or nothing at all. A lot of the young people's blogs I had marked as favourites and possible participants for my research have just stopped blogging. One day's ordinary entry becomes, de facto, the last entry; no way of knowing why the blog was abandonned.

One of first blogs I ever read was written by an American middle-aged woman from Oregon. Her blog was a very personal diary, a book of days, reminiscent of older times; she wrote down every meal she cooked, sometimes adding a recipe, she listed the items provided in her husband's lunchbox, the chores she had accomplished, the books she read. She was also, to my mind, a very good writer, and she kept the online diary for over 5 years. Then, one day, she deleted it. It was a very old-fashioned diary site, with no facilities for comments, but I had emailed her once or twice, to let her know I was reading, and who I was. She had answered very pleasant messages, and knew she had a (very small) readership. A change in computer means I have lost her email address, and so will never know why she stopped writing and deleted the journal. Such is online life, where people can disappear from communities, leaving the others wondering . I really feel this woman's blog was more a technological memory than an opening to the world.

Yesterday, reading through The Big Brother's Leaving Cert English book, I found a quote from Derek Mahon, written about poetry, but that I find eminently suitable to blogs:

Whether we mean to or not, we offer ourselves and our works, such as they are, as illustrative symptoms of a period – the later 20th Century, say – and in that sense, everything has value, however slight. No doubt poetry, good or bad, is a waste of time; but waste, drift, contingency are the better part of wisdom. If it serves any useful purpose, it might be to retrieve the lost stuff: lost experience, lost ideas. Whatever proves uncanonical is at least documentary, evidential. We are all contributors. What was once true is true for ever. What seemed like a good idea at the time retains the cautionary or diversionary function; and “failure”, much
under-rated, is where all the ladders start.

03 September 2006

A post of days

Back home, back in college, everyone (or nearly) back at school. And hopefully, back blogging, and blogging properly. I missed Blogday, where bloggers were encouraged to link to five international blogs of their choice. It was a nice idea, but naturally you wonder about language and the new borders it creates.

It also got me thinking of all the International * Days, and where do they come from? Some googling on a rainy Sunday morning came up with the UN's list of International Days . Hmm... No blogday. So more googling, going well beyond the first four results that we all apparently stick to. Found an International Day of Action for Rivers, an International Museum Day, an
International Migratory Birds Day , even - probably my favourite, an International No Diet Day . And I also finally found the Blogday. But no International Biking Day . It would seem you cycle on your own...