Kimberly De Vries on Thu, 16 Aug 2007 10:28:55 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> The banality of blogging

Yes, that!  :-)

Thank you Jeffrey for putting it so clearly.

On 8/15/07, Jeffrey Fisher <> wrote:

New media in some cases enable the disruption of dominant mental
> and social frameworks within a culture, but no medium, new or old,
> minimally or widely adopted, will *essentially* or *ontologically*
> avoid, much less preclude or prohibit, practitioners from replicating
> and reinforcing extant social and mental frameworks, even if we have
> to acknowledge that those frameworks might adapt themselves to the new
> media. Indeed, in the case of widely adopted media or formats, one
> suspects that they are widely adopted precisely because of the ways
> that they enable people to express things they already want to express
> in ways that either *feel* new or seem easier or more powerful (or
> both).

I thinks so.  Further, new media allow us to see the unconscious assumptions
we had made about the old media.

> Even setting aside challenges one could mount to Hannah Arendt's
> understanding of public and private, or the political and the
> private (which is probably not the same thing), we can nevertheless
> reformulate the problematic posed by the initial post in this thread.
> Bonnie Honig is quoted as follows: 'If politics is everywhere then
> it is nowhere. But not everything is political on this (amended)
> account; it is simply the case that nothing is ontologically protected
> from politicization, that nothing is necessarily or naturally or
> ontologically not political. The distinction between public and
> private is seen as the performative product of political struggle,
> hard won and always temporary' (p. 147).

I think one aspect of blogging that we should observe closely is the way
those writing personal blogs may become  more performative, or may begin
thinking of everything they do as performance because they might blog it
later.  I think this builds on an already existing dynamic many of of first
experienced in various online communities; if you don't meet face to face,
then you have to perform your entire identity (or however much you want to
share).  I think blogging makes this more explicit, and because it requires
less technical skill, people who may not have spent time in other ways
online can jump right in.

Likewise, nothing is protected from banalization (or maybe just
> banality), nothing is necessarily or naturally or ontologically (not)
> banal. On the contrary, maybe everything defaults to banality, and
> it is only by some effort that we make it otherwise. Or not. But
> isn't that precisely Arendt's point about the banality of evil? That
> Eichmann resulted from a failure of *thinking*, of reflection, of
> reasoned judgment. So our complaint is that lots of people use these
> new digi-tools in non-reflective ways, and to be more specific, they
> use it to make the private a part of public discourse. What else is
> new?

Well, this is some of what I meant when comparing some bloggers to my
first-year students.  If we claim some sort of scholarly identity than we
presumably claim to think in a critical reflective way.  So are we
complaining that others, who don't make that claim, aren't scholarly
enough?  I hope not.

Anyway, I agree, this is just as it always has been and if we feel it's a
problem then it's a much bigger problem than just the state of blogging.

--I actually am not anxious myself because this concern seems rather like
the parallel worry that students can't write.  Currently blogging (and
email) are blamed, but within a few years of it's founding (over 300 years
ago) Harvard faculty were complaining that students couldn't write and at
that time blamed (among other things) their spending too much time on such
populist crap as Shakespeare, instead of studying Greek.

Maybe the real problem is that people are acting like people.  ;-)


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