Monday, May 19, 2008

Electronic archiving or messages in a bottle?

I was inspired to start a blog last month when I read an article suggesting that writers could electronically archive their work by creating an extra email account just for that purpose. Once an article was completed/published, the writer is supposed to email a copy of it to the email address. That way, if the writer's house burns down or her computer is destroyed, a copy of the original work will live on and be ever-available.

What if I went one step further, I thought, and put my nonfiction writing on the Internet while it's still in-process or--more specific to my purposes--while it flounders around looking for a designated audience. Thus, this blog was born.

However, the seductive fallacy of posting something to a blog is that if feels like it's getting published already, right this minute, and, therefore, I'm done. I don't have to find (or try to write for) a target audience. I don't have to edit and combine and polish.

But, except for a lucky few, posting to a blog is not really like getting published; only luck or friendship of family ties brings readers to most blogs. All these blog postings--mine and thousands more--are like many trees falling in infinite forests with no one there to witness them.

On the page where you view someone's blog in Blogger (which is where this blog resides), there's a tab at the top that says "Next blog". Click on it and you get someone else's blog, randomly chosen. They may look different--different languages, templates, colors--but there's something the same about all of them. They all seem like messages in a bottle, thrown out to an Internet sea, describing thoughts and movements and routines and family events--with an urgency to find someone to bear witness, to acknowledge their existence.

I find clicking through the random blogs both hopeful--that people believe their lives and thoughts are important enough to share, but sad--that few, if any, are bearing witness. Maybe most blogs are only us writing "Kilroy was here" on an electronic wall.

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