A few definitions from Dictionary.com:
- A daily record, especially a personal record of events, experiences, and observations; a journal.
- A book for use in keeping a personal record, as of experiences.
- An account of the personal experiences of an author.
- An autobiography. Often used in the plural.
- To author an online diary or chronology of thoughts.
- An online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called Weblog,
- A personal Web site that provides updated headlines and news articles of other sites that are of interest to
the user, also may include journal entries, commentaries and recommendations compiled by the user; also written web log, Weblog; also called blog.
How appropriate are these definitions, and what have I been writing here?
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L has some interesting views on blogs. “We now have more writers than readers”, he said, during a conversation some weeks back. “And most of them do not know how to write.”
This offhand remark made me think again about the nature of blogging.
It is true that there are now many more people who jot down their thoughts, but can we classify most of what we see in blogs as “writing”? To me, most blogs seem like asynchronous conversations, where people write of things they would normally talk about at a social gathering. When you meet someone, you narrate a funny incident, discuss local or world news, show a recent photo you’ve taken, or talk about that trip you recently made – these conversations are now also taking place through blogs, with people writing about their experiences, sharing photos, linking to interesting stuff they’ve found, and so on. To say that there are now more writers than readers is like saying there are more people who speak than listen. Speaking and listening are elements so common to social interaction that few think in terms of people who “know how to speak”; similarly, it is pointless to say that most bloggers do not know how to write, because a lot of them are not “writing” in the literary sense of the word – they are merely sharing their thoughts as they would do when they converse with others. Their imperfections are more visible in this medium because the conversation is all there for you to see and dissect.
Unlike real-world conversations, the conversations over blogs are asynchronous – you post a message and only later someone comments or writes about it. This element of extended time (to write, and to respond) gives such conversations a depth that is usually lacking in real-world conversations. It slows things down and makes people think, and that is what I like about this medium.
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Conversations are fine, but I want to get into a diary writing mode.
Most blogs I’ve encountered are not diaries. Every now and then a diary-like entry turns up, but they are predominantly conversations: short articles, episodes or news items linking elsewhere.
When I think of a diarist, I think of Inkspill. I think of entries such as this, this and this.
I want to try and write more dairy-like entries. One characteristic of a diary (which differentiates it from other forms of personal accounts) is that it is written without a specific audience in mind. To retain this trait in a blog is difficult due to the constant awareness (brought about mainly by comments) of people reading what you have written. I want to try and keep away from this awareness, so I’m going to turn off comments for a while.
Although a diary is written without an audience in mind, it does not mean it should be unreadable, or be left unread. To keep a diary interesting (while sticking to its private themes) is a challenge worth taking up.