Sunday, February 01, 2004

Oddly connected
Playing around in google (yes, yes, I admit it, I occasionally google myself just to enjoy the buzz), I found a link to a student in the early stages of planning her research. Anne K Jones at The Dump reads blogs around the world and stumbles (her word) into the scandinavian blog cluster. With a little bit of reading she finds herself oddly connected to the bloggers of the world, realising with surprise that she doesn't know any of us.

With all the definitions, all the restrictions to what blogging is and isn't, the attempts at creating significant networks and sources for disseminating all that wonderfully important information we are so blessed with, we tend to forget exactly that. Blogs connect us. It connects all of us, on good days and bad days.

We may discuss weblogs as alternative knowledge publishing, as Sebastien Paquet does in this article from October 2002, or we may discuss them through dissecting form and technical aspects, as does Dave Winer. But what makes this a differetn way of publishing for me isn't about either political strategies of formal rules. It is about common humanity and sharing experiences.

Yes, we do feel close to those whose weblogs we read. And when it gets close, it gets personal to the point that we feel both happy, worried and hurt from what we read in the blogs of our blog-friends. Human beings are emotional creatures, and we really get emotional when we feel that we are being understood. It is how we fall in love: through experiencing that finally, this person understands me! However, in the blog world, this sensation of mutual understanding is frequently built as much on our own mood at the moment, as on that other person's actual writing. And then, when we return to the blog of our loved one in times of stress, upheaval and fear, and the words we read appear to be angry, even critical of our own ideas... who can not take it personal!?

Problem is - the person who wrote didn't write considering the mood you would be in when you read, because a weblog writer knows only a very small (VERY small) number of the potential readership. Weblog writers may imagine your existance, but who would be able to imagine every nuance of your person? Still, when it does feel like you know eachother, it is because the writer of the weblog is able to communicate something universally human.

It is this communication of humanity that creates the links. While technology may make it more or less easy to keep updated on the writing of the other, while it makes it more or less easy to organise and retrieve information, the part about blogging that makes us return over and over, to rejoice or to disagree, is the knowledge that there is a human being at the other end there. Not somewhere far away in time, in some early stage of a publishing process. The human subject is close at hand, you can see the time stamp betraying when he or she touched the keyboard to write those words, and time and space shrinks and shrivels up, leaving you only a window or two away from that most enthralling and enfuriating creature of all: the fellow human being.

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