What Jeff has to say about Megnut’s article is very interesting, if a touch erudite for my beer-and-sausages self. Indeed, I wonder if those are the sorts of underpinnings from which she was working when she conceived the piece, and that I just missed the deeper nuances in my rush to poo-poo it.

Simply put, the structure imposed by the grammatical rules of timestamps, permalinks, etc., results in paratactic information exchange. Each day adds another level of and then. . . which had been largely lost in conventional hypertext documents. In hypertext, there doesn’t have to be a then, only rhizomatic patterns of connection. Blogging imposes a structure which makes hypertext more functional as a medium. The first generation “link blogs” are entirely paratactic, compared to the hypotactic, subordinating [dare I say tree-like] nature of first generation personal home pages. Hypotaxis was derived from print literacy. Link blogs are in essence far more oral and conversational.

If so, I owe her an apology. This, I can see flowering into something interesting. If the structure imposed by the grammar of blogging (as I think Jeff is describing the subject of Meg’s piece) does indeed move us back closer to the roots, to the orality of the storyteller as he tells the tale of the hunt, lit by the light of the campfire (my image, but the one that strikes me each time Jeff talks about this stuff), then I’m much more interested than once I was in the implications of mechanics.
Thank you, Jeff. And Meg, regardless of whether or not she was thinking these sorts of Big Thoughts when she wrote the piece, for giving us grist for this kind of discussion.
As my old pappy used to say : faskinatin’.


Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. Yes, that’s it. Meg’s piece is about Bloglish Grammar, while you’re speaking of Bloglish Literature.
    I’ve completely lost track of which comment is attached to which whatever (‘shall I pour?’ was beautiful, Eeksy), but for what it’s worth, my last comment on all this is:
    One point of yours that bears dwelling on, and clearly fueled Matt’s irritation, was ‘Lead, or get out of the way’. Matt and Meg didn’t ask to be appointed leaders: by virtue of their leading at an early stage (MeFi, Blogger) they became so by default, and deservedly so, but I imagine it’s pretty tiring and tiresome for them at times.
    Now they, and other early bloggers, have books in the pipeline, and pretty soon the market will be flooded. The existence of half a dozen blog books will make publishers less likely to pick up anyone else’s proposal to write the Definitive Book on Blogging, at least for a while. So in that sense, the blogroots book and the others are ‘in the way’. We in the blogging community hope that those books will tell the story properly (whatever ‘properly’ means), because they’ll be the last chance to tell that story – the story of the early days and the initial explosion in blogging – in quite the same way. Future blog books will have a different spin, and will cast the early history in the light of whatever comes next.
    But for all we (non-Matt/Meg/rcb/etc people) know, the books in the pipeline do capture that spirit. We can’t really tell on the basis of one short article on Bloglish Grammar.

  2. What Jeff describes is very much what I was trying to get at, only I don’t have the experience and knowledge he does to frame the discussion the way he has.

  3. What’s important to remember, I think, is that just as the ‘grammar’ Jeff describes influences how blogs develop as a medium, the way people use blogs will impact how they develop further. Form follows function follows form. Software (or any tool) develops the way it does because it allows users to accomplish what they already want to do, not because it tells them to do things that hadn’t occurred to them. Further innovations follow because the tools already available allow new ideas to be realized, and new desired uses–blog grammar may not dictate blog literature, but the grammar does influence how the literature develops, and the development of a literature strains against and within the ‘limits’ of a grammar, thus expanding the toolkit, thus expanding the literature, etc., ad infinitum.

  4. Meg said : “I don’t have the experience and knowledge he does to frame the discussion the way he has”
    Tell me about it. Sometimes some of these people in this little neighbourhood of ours scare me with their Big Brains. But it’s always wonderful to have your ideas challenged, and sometimes even explained back at you in the context of things you’d not even considered. Happens to me all the damn time – one of the reasons I’m so passionate about this blogging thing.
    What Jeff describes is very much what I was trying to get at
    I don’t regret jumping all over you (well, not too much anyway), Meg, because it turns out that the ensuing discussion has been a useful one, I think, and it might not have happened if somebody hadn’t made a big dissenting noise. I do apologize for jumping so hard, and not looking more closely before I leapt, though…

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