13 March 2005

On the Nature of a Blog

Some comments peri\ blo/gou, on the nature of a blog, would seem useful.

What is the distinctive role that a blog can play, its i)/dion e)/rgon? What can a blog offer, which is not offered by something printed or a live event?

It seems to me: timeliness; dialogue; and style. All of these derive from a blog's nature, as a published journal. A blog must remain true to these to be good.

Timeliness: blog entries must somehow be related to present time and present experience. This may seem difficult to achieve for ancient philosophy. (It is difficult, I think, for philosophy generally, which is why there seems a tendency of blogs originally devoted to intellectual problems, to drift over to political discussions.) But this mark of a blog can be preserved, I think, if topics for discussion are related to current lectures, recent publications, or even what recently occurred to the blogger (assuming this has some kind of freshness and narrative character).

Dialogue: Why would anyone want to publish a journal? Presumably because its publication is somehow continuous with, and an unfolding of, a journal's original inspiration. But a journal is originally a self-dialogue, a publishing of one's own thoughts to oneself. It is essential to a blog, then, that it preserve this nature: it should be probing and dialectical, provisional and not dogmatic. Sincerity seems an essential virtue in a blog.

Style: Half of the appeal of a blog, it must be confessed, is in its design and appearance. What one would not be much disposed to look at, if printed on paper, becomes fascinating, if appealingly displayed on a computer screen. A good blog should therefore be elegant, clever, and humorous, both in form and content.

A pledge: I'll do my part. But I don't want to do too much talking to myself--it doesn't look so good. I'll need your help with dialectic and dialogue.


Michael Pakaluk said...

Okay, I'll comment on my own post!

Someone has written and said that blog entries should be manageable--easy to read quickly.

I agree with that and will try to keep posts roughly to what can fit on a computer display all at once.

Thornton Lockwood said...

Hi Michael,

For several years a fellow named Paul Bullen ran a listserve (the evolutionary prequel to blogs?) on Aristotle's Politics, and for a while it generated exciting and significant discussion by people like Fred Miller, Peter Simpson, David Reeve, David Keyt, and a bunch of others. What made it successful? I think a bit part of it was simply the serendipity of right place, right time (in the case of the Politics, Miller, Simpson, Keyt and Reeve were all at work on major editions or books on the Politics, which certainly made that work timely).

Why did the "moment past" (aside from the fact that Ari scholars have moved on a bit from the rediscovery of the Politics in the mid 90's)? I think the biggest danger is that the more complicated the posts, the more difficult it is to say something worth saying without devoting a significant chunk of time responding to a post. As things would have it, your posts on the Laws to date are something I'm in no position to respond to thoughtfully because it's not a work I know well enough to venture an opinion on. (Unfortunate coincidence: I plan to be doing a good bit of work on the Laws this summer, but there's a lot of grading and so forth to do between now and mid-May). The result is that although I can recognize and appreciate the insight and care that you are giving to posts on the Laws (and indeed, on the 2n literature on it), I'm hard pressed to enter into the debate you're trying to establish.

In any case, I do enjoy reading what you have to say and exhort you to keep up the good work. Don't assume that because you're the only one talking that only you are hearing your own voice.


Michael Pakaluk said...

Thornton, do you mean I cannot presume an easy familiarity with the Laws? What is the world coming to?

Flogistix said...

for me.. I would say that when creating a blog is that you have to create it with a form of affection to the viewers that they will stay to view for a minute and start reading its content.

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