Chaos Ethics Ruminations
The Piano and the Armchair

After the Volcano

Part of the July Blogs of the Round Table.

After the Volcano Over at Critical Distance, it seems that the bloot on the extinction of blogs struck a chord and pushed the conversation further into the corners of the internet. Their BoRT for July, “Blogception”, is a continuation of the themes that began with “The Extinction of Blogs” and that I summarised in “Bloot Me If You Need Me”. You can find the contributed pieces with the recently-revived drop down box, below (hurrah!).

I particularly enjoyed the tmblr post by rumirumirumirumi that suggests that there probably isn’t actually a problem, since the talking is still going on. Yet I found it rather odd and amusing that I couldn’t actually comment to this post, because tumblr (a format I only discovered this month) doesn’t support it. It drives home for me that while the conversations still occur on the new media platforms, what is actually in danger of extinction is ‘just’ the old form of blogging. But of course, it was this form of blogging (and not just on the topic of games, as others have assumed!) that I suggested was in danger of extinction – and that I don’t want to lose.

Random throwaway conversations may survive, but the blog clusters are dying – and as far as I can tell new formats like tumblr and G+ do not and cannot maintain community in anything like this way. G+, I can now honestly report, reverts to the usenet/forum format for community – with all the disastrous problems this entails. But then Oscar drew my attention to First Person Scholar via a post entitled “Feed-Forward Scholarship” that feels very much like another shot at a Terra Nova-like scholarly outreach community. A definite sense of circles and roundabouts hangs in the air – transformation is certainly afoot, yet there is also a sense of recurrence, of things coming back around.

You won’t care about the extinction of the blog clusters if – like Corvus and others – you are getting your conversational fixes elsewhere. Probably the only people who do care are those of us who benefited from the experimental era roughly a decade hence when the blog clusters dominated digital discourse. These current discussions have left me in no doubt that dialogue does still take place on the internet, but they have not yet convinced me that those of us in the ‘old guard’ have nothing to lose by giving up what we once had. On the contrary, I am more certain than ever that we have already lost what we had. But perhaps this is not as great a cause for alarm as I originally suggested.

Every extinction is an opportunity for that which survives: after the volcano, new life flourishes in the fecundity of its desolation. So it seems to be on the internet. If I cannot keep my blog clusters alive, I must be mindful of how my blogs, survivors of this catastrophic transition, can blossom in some as-yet undiscovered niche.


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Welcome back, Chris :-)

Indeed, we're reaching some sort of a consensus, I guess, in the sense that we realise conversation is still happening, but that it is diffuse, often unconnected. Maybe that's how it's always been or how it always seems: it can be difficult to see a tightly knit cluster or network if you're not part of it.

As for tumblr: it's a weird place. It is technically possible to include a comment system on your tumblr, but you have to insert it through CSS in your theme. Many blogs don't bother with it, understandably.

In addition, it is common practice on tumblr to comment by reblogging someone's post and adding your thoughts below the original post. Like replying to an email, but public. In other words, there is definitely a lot of interaction among tumblr users, but the technology doesn't make it super-easy. (That issue again).

Finally, tumblr has become, for whatever reason, a space where minorities of all kinds have been able to carve out a niche (clusters?) for themselves, which is very valuable, in my opinion. I hope that in the wake of the takeover by Yahoo, this will continue to be possible.

Cheers, Oscar! I'm intrigued by tumblr, especially in terms of it being an incremental modification (you can say 'evolution' if you must! :p) of the older blogging format. Not sure I want to go there, but I'm keeping an eye on it all the same...

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