Ev is working on a thoughtful rebuttal to Rich Robinson’s article on this week’s A List Apart, but since m3 is exactly the type of weblog to which the article is apparently referring, I figured I’d go for the big quote and the snarky commentary:
‘Weblog schmeglog, whatever. Kerouac just drove up and down the peninsula and then wrote about it. Other people argued (and still do) over what it should be called.’
Kerouac? Weblogs? Huh?
I’ve got a name for it. Crap. That the majority of what goes on today on weblogs should be compared to the Beat Generation musings and writings of Jack Kerouac is simply laughable. Ginsberg and Kerouac wrote poetry and fiction that influenced not only their generation, but those that came after. Can anyone, with a straight face, compare Ginsberg’s “Howl” to this a typical weblog entry like this one:
‘Hey! Joe linked to me! Hey Joe!’
I didn’t think so."
Rich, you ignorant slut. Software solutions like Blogger haven’t caused the demise of intelligent writing any more than fountain pens and dime store notebooks. Perhaps in your world, writing should be left to the small intellectual elite who can afford to have their lofty musings penned by the town scribe onto the skins of unblemished calves and read to the illiterate masses in the square after Sunday church. Certainly, by preventing the average Joe on the street from publishing, you could guarantee that readers would be able to find your work and, because of their limited options, read it. Do you really believe that the Lance Arthurs and Leslie Harpolds of the world will disappear into obscurity because of a few million cat posts? Will Carl Steadman die in poverty because publishers would rather devote his column space to quips about the publishing industry from other magazines? No sir, I believe the only people at risk of being lost in the current flood of self-publishing are those who were mediocre to begin with. Has it ever occurred to you that .edu accounts and the ability to cobble together basic HTML structure are not necessarily ideal indicators of writing ability? Perhaps you feel that Kerouac and his lot would have never achieved any notice if word processors had been available during their heyday, eh? I’m not suggesting that every site is a literary gem, or even that every weblogger is interested in pushing boundaries or changing the world. Quite the contrary, a great many webloggers are only interested in expanding their own personal sphere and creating an extended community that is not restricted to a particular geographic area. Perhaps you should consider that the nature of a personal site is not to wow you, but to create something of a personal nature – even if that something is simply a group of friends. Amazingly enough, in spite of the millions of other useless blogs already cluttering up the web, they seem to be succeeding. Those people are quite likely to engage in the same sort of chatter that you might hear over cocktails, discussions of the weather, inside jokes, flirtation, even the occasional philosophic musing. Not everyone is going to enjoy the conversation going on in any particular part of the room, but that’s okay. It’s a big room, and they aren’t writing for everyone in it. Perhaps you need to examine your own expectations when browsing a personal site. The world is indeed full of self-important, self-involved people, and I would certainly agree that Blogger has facilitated an increase in the volume of material available on the internet. Of course, given the notion that most people tend towards either art or science, I’m of the notion that removing technological barriers can only improve the quality ratio by allowing in the more non-technical artistic types. Perhaps you should be less concerned about the work habits of others and more concerned with maintaining the quality level of your own material.
[meta-side note: I posted a slight variation of this this screed here.]
Also, check out the following: wiremommy and the webmistress for more reactions.