Why do people blog? What is the internets for? Why do I blog? I have been thinking about these ideas since starting the delightful book my brother and his wife gave me for my birthday.
This is a fun book. It’s a clever collection of online journal entries (okay, blogs) of a witty and wise and opinionated writer. I’m on page 89 of 368.
Scalzi has been blogging since near the beginning. In fact reading him has made me wonder when I started my own website. I know that when I did so, the noun and verb, “blog,” was not in my usage vocab.
Unfortunately, my original web site was three crashes and many computers ago. It’s possible that sitting around my house on a hard drive I have references to when I began doing an online website. I know somewhere out there in cyber land everything is still floating around preserved.
I’m still trying to figure out when exactly I started doing an online journal.
In the meantime, since Scalzi is articulate and smart about what he is up to on his web site, Whatever (link), I have been thinking about my own expectations of the internet and online writing.
I can remember my original motivation was to reach out to other people online to share conversation. Conversation in its most idealized sense: Talking about ideas. Ideas that include things that interest me like music, literature, and other things.
I guess I thought the internet would be a vehicle for sharing my own work as a musician.
I began to realize that the whole idea of distributing ideas and culture was shifting under the feet of those plunging online. I know that my online usage predates my 1987 move to Holland. At that time, I was primarily interested in BBSes (online bulletin board systems) and online library catalogs. At this writing, I’m not sure when I started my first website, but I am trying to figure this out. It was probably around the time Scalzi started blogging (1998), but I’m wonder if it was a bit before or after.
Anyway, now I think of the internet as sort of a magical place where if you can imagine something, odds are there are other people online thinking and writing about it. Literally, imagining ANYTHING (note my rare use of caps since longtime web users see caps as SHOUTING).
I think my imagination was jump-started by the early Napster. The idea that one could thumb through other people’s audio files and share them was an explosion of possibility in my brain cells.
Unfortunately I fear the Napster story of going from “Celestial Jukebox” to “Just Another Commercial Moneymaking Venture” might foreshadow a dire future for the interwebs. As soon as the idea that Freedom of Information becomes preposterous in the eyes of people controlling access, the internet will lose much of its potential and interest for me.
But in the meantime, I love it. I love being able to search and find information and conversation and articles and music and books that interest me. I have described the internet as like a party where you are able to find fascinating educated interest people chatting next to complete idiots and the whole range in between, but it’s really much more than that. It’s all the libraries, recordings, and artwork available. It’s a museum, a concert hall, a bookstore, an “anything you can thinking of” store. It’s only limited by the imagination of human beings which if nothing else is the strong point of humans. They (we) make “meaning” in its most fundamental sense. And the internet can be full of “meaning.”
And I have to add here so my daughter Elizabeth doesn’t prompt me, of course it has turned into a vast venue of Porn (capital P) which is not to be sneezed at by any means.
So blogging for me has turned into sharing my ideas, insights and also linking in other ideas and resources I run across.
I think that for a writer (like John Scalzi) it is an even better venue than a musician. If your trade is words, well then that’s what the internet is primarily about (IMNSHO). But if your trade is sound (like mine is) one immediately falls into a secondary consideration of how to effectively allow people to hear your sounds. This means recording.
Learning about recordings (as I have been for the last ten or so years) has opened up a can of worms for me. Lo and behold (like writing and music) recording is a completely intact self contained high art. Damn!
Fortunately it’s not as expensive as it was several decades ago. Unfortunately it still takes tons of expertise and time.
So I’m still working out how to share my sounds well. I am basically a composer/musician not a recordist. It’s easy to throw up copies of my sheet music. But that feels like it limits my audience to a shrinking number of literate musicians.
The recordings you find on my web site reflect my own poor lack of expertise in this area. They also reflect the fact that I am not devoting my life to recording and learning how to get better and better at it. I have devoted my life to music making, itself. A slightly different idea for me which includes daily practice and thinking about music; and much composing and improvising and performing.
So get a copy of Scarzi book and read it. He’s great! Go on his website and read his current entries. Good stuff. Thank you, Mark and Leigh!