Dan's Metablog
Writing about blogging, identity, and narrative

Walker's "weblog"   Wednesday, October 26   12:34 PM

I went back and read the short definition of "weblog" Jill Walker wrote for the Routledge Encyclopedia Of Narrative Theory.

It's pretty good, and I'd recommend it to someone who hasn't heard of weblogs before, but as I noted when reading her "Distributed Narrative" paper, Walker has a tendency to dwell on the ideal weblog, with all its potential, rather than the average weblog. For her, links are essential to blogging.

As Miller observed, "we must ask whether we should define a genre by an ideal or by the mean, by expectation or by experience." She makes a pretty persuasive argument for focusing on what Joe Clark calls A-List bloggers, in many ways the most successful people working in this genre, and if you buy that argument there's no problem with Walker.

But I'm still out on this. Are most bloggers really fighting for those A-List seats? Clark thinks that neophyte bloggers read all the preeminent weblogs — "How could they miss 'em? They lead the "Other blogs" columns on hundreds of other sites" — and tells us a little story:

What the huddled masses yearning to blog their way into superstardom are left with, then, is not merely talking at people, but talking at a perennially minuscule group of people. It's a source of frustration: It shatters the illusions of communication and dialogue, a shadow of which we notice when the A-list blithely blogs and counterblogs itself. The thinking is: "They get to have a semblance of a conversation [however illusory; see above], so why can't we?"

...which I have trouble believing. If you look at the Nussbaum's NYT Magazine article, which strikes me as a fairly competent sketch of high school (i.e. most) blogging culture, you'll see a bunch of kids concerned mainly with their nanoaudiences.

While Miller may be right about the ideal blog in the minds of readers, I think Nussbaum's piece begs the question: what is the ideal blog in the mind of the average blogger? What is he (or more likely, she) trying to accomplish?

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