Monday, August 08, 2005

Same As It Ever Was

I just visited the blog of rock singer and Renaissance Man Mr David Byrne (because I think he is an interesting person, and has insightful opinions) and had a bit of a revelation. Mr Byrne has a blog, is an interesting person and has insightful opinions, but he just doesn't get the concept of blogging. Oh, I know, the headline says "Don't Call It a Blog" but I'm sorry Mr Byrne, calling it a 'Journal' is just attempting to weasel out of being lumped in with the hoi polloi - it's a blog by any other name.

Except for one significant difference. At first glance it looks like pretty much any other blog you might stumble across in your explorations of the blogosphere. But hey, what's this? He doesn't allow readers to comment on his posts!

Let's think about that for a moment. The nature of a blog is at least slightly interactive. You post a thought, people read it, and if they feel like it, they leave a pearl of wisdom or a few pellets of scat. They leave their alias, which is a link that can be followed back to their own blog so that you, in turn, can read and comment upon their pontifications. They mark their territory in the blogosphere. These are the basic rules that any blogger knows. Disallowing any comment on your pronouncements is the blogging equivalent of hanging out a sign that says "No Riff Raff".

I was reading down Mr Byrne's latest post when I noticed the absence of a Comments field and I had the eerie and almost corporeal feeling of a door being slammed in my face. I had to stop and think about why I felt so put out. I didn't even intend to post a comment.

What I believe has happened is that Mr Byrne has failed to understand the concept of community that blogging, by tacit agreement, encompasses. There're no rules, of course, you can do anything you want on the net, but there are understandings in the cyberworld, just as in RL you understand that it's bad manners to fart in an elevator or park in the disabled bay at the supermarket.

When I realised that Mr Byrne did not care about my, or any other reader's, opinion, I completely lost interest in what he had to say. If I want that kind of experience, I have many books to choose from.

By contrast, Mr David Brin, a person who is at least as erudite and well known as Mr Byrne, has a blog where he makes commentary on all manner of worthy subjects, and cultivates a thriving culture of opinion, humour and insight. Mr Brin also participates in the comments from time to time, making his blog not only entertaining and informative, but a kind of living dialogue. I believe that this is what blogging is about.

Mr Byrne may indeed have many profound and wonderful things to say, but in my opinion he suffers from an excess of hubris. We are no longer living in the world where a Creative Person speaks, and the Great Unwashed throw flowers in obeisence. A Lofty 'Journal' he may have, but he lives in poverty without a blog.

UPDATE: Neil Gaiman's doing it too. C'mon chaps, you look like pretentious prats. Tsk.


Blogger Joe Fuel said...

You know, I must say one thing. I am amazed everytime I read your blog at the incredible linguistic effort you put into it. Your vocabularly leaves me in awe.

My hat is off to you, sir.

August 09, 2005 11:12 PM  
Anonymous Pil said...

Thanks for the link to the David Brin site. It looks very interesting, but I fear only for those with a lot of time on their hands.

I only ever have time for blogs that go with my coffee in the mornings, not with an all-you-can-eat hotel buffet breakfast. Yours is always a quick and very good espresso - I look forward to it! (I hope this fits in with your concept of what blogging is about...)

August 10, 2005 4:35 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

Ah, the Espresso of Blogs! Yes, that's perfectly acceptable. I would hate to be the Egg McMuffin of Blogs...

August 10, 2005 4:41 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

And Joe, thanks for dropping by. I hope that as well as enjoying the big words you find The Cow entertaining and thought-provoking (and maybe funny?) as well...

August 10, 2005 4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If its a journal, then its not a blog, i guess.

August 17, 2005 2:46 PM  
Anonymous kg said...

Then you will LOVE this!

Controversy has erupted over Microsoft's decision to abandon the term "RSS" in the forthcoming version 7 of Internet Explorer.

Instead of using the acronym for real simple syndication, the software developer said on a the IEblog that it plans to refer to the syndication technology as "web feeds".

August 17, 2005 4:17 PM  
Blogger weirdpixie said...

i once had the opportunity to see david byrne give a talk here in san francisco for a film about cuban percussionists (can't remember the title) back in the mid-1990's. i had never seen him speak in public before and he gave a 15 minute talk before the start of the film, stepping up shyly to the podium. i remember being surprised at how quiet and shy he seemed. he spoke mostly with his head down the entire time, not making too much eye contact with the audience and quite honestly, mumbling incoherently, so much so that we couldn't understand a word he was saying, much else hear about what the film was going to be about. then he just sort of waved and walked off. i was a bit miffed about that, honestly, because i was interested at least in how he was involved in the film we were about to watch. once the film started i could tell my boredom was to increase tenfold-- it was black-and-white, documentary-style, and had very little narrative. was mostly just clips of old film footage that was spliced together with a bit of text interspersed and some narrative. quite boring, actually, and i admit, i'm not really big on cuban or latin musics so it's probably mostly my own fault that i was not at all interested. so we left early, walking out of the theater slightly irked about having given up an entire sunday afternoon to attend.

i'm a bit of a loudmouth when it comes to dissapointment- and took to complaining to my mate all the way down the escalator to the lobby of the theater, which was empty since everyone was still inside watching the film, so i felt free enough to voice my opinion strongly and openly about both byrne and the film and remark about my disappointment without holding back. i think i remember saying something like "what was the deal with byrne? he just stood there mumbling like some sort of idiot!" blah blah blah, until i got down to the lobby and realized that a very downtrodden-looking david byrne was standing only a few feet away from me, obviously within earshot of my remarks. i won't forget the look on his face-- he looked a bit like a small boy who had just gotten punched in the stomach.

i think he has definitely had some brilliant moments, though. especially his work with eno on "my life in the bush of ghosts" (one of my alltime favorite recordings).

August 27, 2005 5:42 AM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

I also loved MLITBOG, a beautiful and clever work. I find David Byrne quite an interesting character too, if a little abstruse at times. It's just that in my opinion blogging is about something different to throwing your pearls before swine which is what I feel like Mr Byrne is doing. Sure, you can call it a journal. But go read it - it looks exactly like a blog to me, except that he has spurned any reader commentary. It's just rude. Plus it smacks of such a 1980's 'I'm a serious artist' attitude. It really got under my skin (as if you couldn't tell...). David Byrne needs to go read some of the great blogs out there and see what he's missing out on.

August 27, 2005 6:41 AM  

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