So I’ve decided to enter the world of blogs. I’ve been quite reluctant to do so in the past, since most of what I would see felt like a lot of narcissistic wanking. The most obvious being the online diaries of people just putting all their personal crap on the web for all to see. But I also didn’t understand the more celebrated blogs, which just felt like people building up fan clubs, trying to get the most popular blog by taking stances and talking about issues or pointing out interesting insights they had. I suspected that there must be something to this blog thing, but whenever I looked at a blog I was quite under-impressed.
The first ‘aha!’ moment of realizing the potential of blogs came reading Lessig’s Free Culture, as he said blogs ‘are arguably the most important form of unchoreographed public discourse that we have.’ Which is a pretty powerful statement, but it does make sense when you think of the alternatives we have for public discourse. There are no town hall meetings any more, there is little way to engage those whose views may differ from yours. The architecture of blogging, with asynchronous communication and trackbacks, allows for real public discourse. Of course I am still less than convinced that the political blogospheres that form are anything more than groupthink, narcissism spread a little more widely where people debate the small points with a like minded group. A wider circle of wanking, not actually changing anyone’s mind about anything.
But I’m not starting a blog to discuss politics, though I won’t rule it out. The main reason I’m starting a blog is so that I can put my thoughts on the internet but without forcing them into people’s inboxes. I have a tendency for very long emails, and in the past I’ve just forced them on email lists, but often felt bad about it, sending to 50 or 200 people many of whom could probably care less. Which is to say my blog is probably going to be a bit different than the traditional short posts commenting on some article or other blog post. But the biggest thing I’ve realized about blogs is that they can’t be contained in any single category. Comparing blogging to journalism, as has been a fairly hot topic in the mainstream press, is like comparing writing with a pencil to journalism. Blogging is simply a medium, in which you can do whatever you want.
This blog will be an experiment in exploring what I’d like to do with the medium, seeing how it changes my message. But as brevity is not my forte, many of my posts will probably be long. Indeed I think I’ve already exceeded the standard blog post limit. And many of them will likely explore the random ideas bouncing around my brain instead of just the more standard insightful comments and recycling of the posts of others. Though in blog fashion I will try to use others as my starting point. Indeed I believe there are no original thoughts, there is just combining and remixing the memes that are already out there. Much will focus on mapping and the geospatial web. Initially this will likely be my biggest focus, as I just spent much of the last nine months researching and about the bigger issues, and need to just brain dump a lot of what I came across, and a blog seems like the perfect medium for me to do so. I will also get meta and explore many of the implications of an rssed, social networked, and collaboratively filtered world, which has been fascinating to me lately, and a good part of the reason I’m starting to blog. And the third cluster of thoughts I’ve been having of late center on alternatives to the profit motive and the current state of corporations – what might come next. How to create structures that encourage innovation and creativity, and allow people to live their lives, but perhaps reigning in some of the inequalities that seem to be an accepted reality today.
Through all these ideas will naturally run an open source current, indeed I think the core ideas of open source are what unites all three. And I will explore how these ideas can be combined, and how they can lead to a better world for us all. And beyond that pretty much anything that occurs to me is fair game. I’m probably just going to make rough categorizations of posts, and I’ll probably repeat myself – perhaps someone else in this emerging collaborative filtering world will make a meta-blog tagging and rating my posts. But I’m not holding my breath… yet.