Communal Blogging

It seems that everyone has a platform these days: a website, a blog, a twitter.

On the surface, much blogging may appear to be a pointless endeavour: if the information is already out there then why reiterate or regurgitate it? Do we really need someone else to tell us the same thing again? The internet is crowded with voices, and each one wants to share something with us. It can sometimes seem like there are too many, and that every new one only adds to an already overwhelming tumult. With a galaxy of voices vying for our attention, how do we choose who to listen to, and what to look at?

We should first consider that the act of re-telling may be useful for the person doing it. It may be a way for us to process the things that we blog about, and in contributing towards the culture we may not feel so overwhelmed by it. In truth, blogging could be providing a number of benefits for the blogger, and whilst seeming to be an act that is primarily in the interests of the collectivity, it may well be a process that means most to the individual doing the blogging.

But to sketch out only the more self-serving aspects of blogging would be to mislead. We could also frame it as a communal activity; an activity that is in service to the community. In this sense the blog becomes a kind of community notice board, or an aspect - a corner - of a larger board. Through blogging about things we bring them to the attention of the community, saying "I think this is important, and I'd like to share it." In this way we also share ourselves with the community - we develop a voice, become a citizen.

Blogging becomes a way of giving your "self" to the community, a way of becoming known. The blog itself acts as a point of communion, a locus within a larger constellation. It is a person in the absence of a person, a self-portrait in ideas, interests, worries, criticism. It becomes an entrance-point to an individual, a way to make contact.

So we could see the primary importance of our blogs as contributing to the life of the community. The idea of community that is proposed here may, however, be quite different from traditional notions based on a real-world locality. Instead of consisting of our village or town, or our circle of "meatspace" friends (those that we actually see in person every now and then), it would consist of our network of online familiars.

In this way, from the galaxy of voices and information we can begin to mark out our constellations, to make some sense. The use of the blog needn't be in what it contributes to the online cosmos, but rather in what it contributes to our online locality. Across the often impersonal sprawl of the web, these devices allow the idea of community to blossom.

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