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

The Weiner Hypotheses   Tuesday, October 25   8:24 PM

I talked to Prof. Weiner, my "Writing Biography" teacher, again today about blogging and narrative, mainly trying to get some idea about where I should start theory-wise — there must be some narratology/rhetoric tome with obvious applicability here. My longstanding casual interest notwithstanding, I'm new to both of those areas of study and I keep thinking I should "catch up."

Prof. Weiner was generally dismissive of modern scholarship on weblogs, particularly the LiveJournal scholarship: she blogs about sci-fi in one of the more private LiveJournal communities. She did mention an article in Biography quarterly, apparently a response to the Online Lives issue I have yet to read, which I'll have to remember to ask her about.

We've had a similar if slightly more protracted conversation on the subject of blogging-and-narrative before, and I recognized the following points from that earlier conversation.

Call them the Weiner hypotheses:

1. Our Bold Hero's generation will be the one to write most of the scholarship on this genre. Many theorists who're just wetting their toes in the phenomenon don't understand what's important, how things work.

2. Most scholars overestimated the extent to which weblogs would free people of their identities, show us that gay people are just people after all, that sort of thing. In fact, bloggers tend to assume socially-constructed roles and identities in an effort to express themselves.

3. The continuing emphasis on intertexuality, distributed narrative, the depth model, and that sort of thing ignores the pragmatics of weblogs. Most readers don't follow links or comment. With seven or eight windows open, the average reader is devoting scant time and attention to all the bells and whistles at a given site.

Those seem to be the key themes, though I'll probably talk to her about this again within the week. Hovering around the conversation was the following point, which keeps coming to mind as I read all this scholarship:

4. The lone blog with no outgoing or incoming links, no comments, and no effect on the discussion at other blogs — what I'm calling the hapax blogomenon — is incredibly common. In fact it may be the most common form of blog.

I should mention, in case it's not obvious, that I don't necessarily agree with all of Prof. Weiner's points, especially #3. But I have nothing to refute that claim with as yet, unless I can beat it to death with the technocratic assumptions of my ideology.

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