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What is a blog for?

Thinking about Twitter (”micro-blogging”) and starting this blog myself got me thinking about blogging more generally and its form and function.

It seems to me that blogging retrieves a whole heap of previous media including: newspaper column, poem, diary, journal, video documentary, political dialogue, letter writing, psychotherapy, book, classroom.

A few notes – the blog is:

  • a mosaic rather than linear form (newspaper column, poem);
  • on a specific topic (book, newspaper column, journal);
  • a reflection on one’s life (diary, letter writing, psychotherapy);
  • published (book, newspaper column);
  • self-edited (diary, letter writing);
  • public rather than private (newspaper column, political dialogue);
  • a verbalization of one’s inner thoughts (diary, psychotherapy);
  • a record of a process (journal, video documentary);
  • a personal communication (letter writing, however the letter addresses an other, while the blog addresses the Other, q.v. Lacan);
  • a place of learning (classroom);
  • inviting of immediate commentary…and social change (political dialogue)
  • In fact the blog is rather like a personalised, chatty textbook on a given subject, that undergoes perpetual revision.

    I then remembered McLuhan’s definition of the book: the book is a teaching machine. (q.v. The Gutenberg Galaxy, 1962, also the summaries on Visual Space and Civilization)

    Also – his insight that in the electronic age, “consumers become producers”.

    If the book is a “teaching machine”, the blog is a social medium for learning – a “textbook without walls”?

    { 2 } Comments

    1. Michael Edmunds | December 31, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

      Another useful McLuhan insight is the notion of services and dis-services. Every new technology has both sides of that coin. Beginning with the high modernist exploration of the services and dis-. functions of the telephone (Freud) radio (Lewis) TV (Joyce), with each having their particular views on the service and dis-. aspects, into the po-mo simulacra (all the French), we’ve entered the para McLuhan world (Theall). The para McLuhan project is to ascertain how McLuhan gained his insights- Theall’s undertaking. I’d suggest to that end the key is to understand the services and dis-services of every technology (in a time and place)! Your roll call on what a blog is could be turned into such a reflection.

      Happy New Year- 2012
      me

    2. Alice Rae | January 6, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      Happy New Year! We’ve just got back from holidays or i would have replied sooner! I like the service / dis-service idea, i guess similar to the tetrad extend/retrieve (service) vs obsolesce/reverse into (dis-service). I agree this application of McLuhan’s thought is most relevant today- i am often trying to apply the tetrad to social media especially in order to understand them better.. had never thought of the French school as a reflection on services/dis-services of simulacra but really love that idea!

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    1. Light Through McLuhan : A tetrad for blogging | January 18, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

      [...] was thinking about blogging and the list I made about the various media that blogging ‘retrieves’, when I realised I forgot a really obvious one – the [...]

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