Reflecting on Matt Webb’s post on designing social software, Ryan Shaw realized the significance of one of his lines: “Outside the context of [their creation], most of the weblog posts just don’t make any sense.” He argues that this is a pretty damning criticism of blogging as a serious alternative to journalism.
If i think of my own posts, very few are ever written to be used elsewhere. They are set of rambling commentaries based on what’s in my head and the only relevant context is me. The information that is useful to others is often the information that is part of an ongoing dialogue. Of course, it’s frustrating when you try to collect those thoughts. They require a massive rewrite to be truly valuable long-standing. What is it about this format that doesn’t permit us to collect our efforts into a coherent package? I mean, for centuries, professors turned lectures into books. Of course, they required editing too.
I don’t think of what i’m doing as journalism, but i do recognize the problems with persistence of information. As far as whether or not this is a damning critique…. i wonder if journalism is better off in a dialogue? I wonder if that means it’s a different kind of journalism? I mean, as much as i go back and read old newspapers, the information has a social/political context that’s really hard to get when you read back. So, even if the text makes sense, that doesn’t mean a lot isn’t lost. (Ah, Benjamin on translation….)