Cleaning out my yahoo account which I’ve had for ages, I discovered an old zip file that contains all my personal mail between 1996 to the end of 1998. It also contains about a year’s worth of journal entries. There’s over 900kb of pure text in that zip file and it’s well organised enough in folders that the conversations make sense.
I’ve been reading bits of it. I’d forgotten how turbulent a period it was.
Reading stuff I wrote back then is a strange experience. My style and the way I express myself hasnt changed that much but with the benefit of hindsight, it’s pretty obvious when I’m trying to be clever and when I’m trying to communicate as clearly as possible.
Trying to be clever really does come across as that. Smug, pratty, pretentious.
However, my clear communication style isnt bad at all. He seems quite a nice guy. And thankfully most of the letters appear to fall into that category.
Thing is, having decided not to allow the personal to do anything more than lightly shade my LJ entries, will I ever read these entries in the future with any amount of interest? Will what I write now illuminate the person I am now (to the person I will be) in any significant way or will it just be a collection of stale and insufficiently worked through ideas?
Heck, will it even matter? I’m not rushing to read that archive with all that much interest really.
I have only now discovered RSS. Because I now have a wireless laptop, lying in bed on a horribly cold evening like this poking around the net has become possible.
So now I have a gmail account (because it POPs), a thunderbird email client which also does RSS.
At first look, it didnt seem much, just a mail-like interface to a website. Heck, when you click on a subject line all it does is pull up the webpage anyway. What was it doing that favourites / bookmarks on your favourite browser wasnt doing?
But as I mucked around subscribing to this and that feed, answering my email at the same time, it became quite apparent that the subject line IS the benefit, is the genius of RSS. What used to be a static bookmark is now a table of contents that updates automatically telling you how many items you havent read. And you dont even have to read most of it, you can scan through the subject lines, most of them quite well written, and only read the ones you’re interested in without having to deal with the vagaries of that particular websites layout editor.
Single interface, pure content, maximum data filtering efficiency. Unfortunately, I think my work productivity may have dropped.
Lots of interesting comments from my last entry and thanks dangerfield23 for pointing me to moodgrapher. What a great concept!
Anyway, rather than responding individually to each comment, I thought I’d post another entry with some of my other thoughts on blogs, especially with regard to possible professional consequences of blogging in the public domain.
I’d first intended my blog to be a notebook and a way of breaking out of my writer’s block. It rapidly became an op-ed column and I’ve been enjoying writing it enough that I am still writing at least a couple of entries every week.
I did think about the consequences both personal and professional of being in the public domain. But in retrospect, it was the uncontrolled nature of public domain publishing (even if my audience would be very tiny) that attracted me to blogging and which maintains my writing interest today.
However, one of things I hadnt quite taken into consideration was the friends functionality and that the content from their blogs would invariably form a refrain to my own entries. As my friends list grew, it became obvious that there would be a bit more crossover than I’d first anticipated, that in fact, as uncontrolled and anarchic self-publishing filter free is, the linking of journals through friends list made it even more so.
At that point, I thought about the convenience of the friends list function, the social affirmation trading aspects of it and weighed it against possible professional repercussions. Having given up a long time ago on ever being accepted by the mainstream corporate Australia (or indeed mainstream Australia) as one of the boys, it wasnt too difficult for me to shrug it off.
So, I continued writing and growing my friends list. There are evident disjunctions of course but I think the pseudo-collaborative mosaic that results from one’s friends list and one’s blog adds interest and depth dar more than a single blog on its own can.
I remain fascinated by blogging. not so much by opinion blogs, of which mine is one, or even blogsites such as blogspot, but specifically livejournal with its combination of social networking and blogging functionality.
Having been on LJ for nearly three months now and observing other journals, the comments, friends and filter functionality together seems to open LJ up to quite complex social interaction or depending on your viewpoint, a large can of worms.
It does appear that people can obtain of lot of emotional support from their friends list and from other casual readers. At the same time, the amount of emotional fallout from casual comments or from directed attacks is also proportionate to how much a person opens up on-line.
The need for filters becomes obvious in that context. If a journal is to operate as a support/social space where one feels safe enough to be openup then only some can be allowed in and others need to be filtered out.
Even though the process of filtering someone out or allowing someone in then becomes symbolic and fraught, the weblog which in the start was an anarchic uncontrolled exposure of self to the world is now controlled. Real-life paradigms of social interaction with concentric and overlapping circles of intimacy are replicated on-line.
And having rediscovered the world of digital photography, I’ve also got myself a less geeky lj photo. That is one without my specs, in dim lighting and a little bit of photoshop so that it’s not all shades of red.
Ah, vanitas vanitatum. Omnia vanitas.