I’m sitting in a cafe trying very hard to frame blogs in Ong’s terms and ignore the conversation next to me but i can’t. A woman is loudly talking, using her hands for emphasis; the man next to her is leaning in and nodding and uh-huhing, saying confirming statements every few minutes. They’ve been talking this way for a long time. She’s analyzing another woman, critiquing her view of the world, her actions, her attitudes. She’s looking for validation, offering stories to keep this guy paying attention.
Finally, wrapped up in their conversation, i IM to Barb about it; she’s sitting right next to me, pretending to blog but mostly chewing on her pen. I find myself analyzing her analyzing this other woman. Barb notes “you realize – we’re the backchannel for their conversation.” And we both laugh. My conception of backchannels is so biased by the primary discussion around it, whereby backchannels are a second front channel, a known presence of people with computers. Do they know that we are their backchannel, the meta on their meta? What does it mean that a perspective on their conversation is being recorded for posterity, only they will never know it. Or will they? What happens when strangers recognize digital records of their physical traces? Ah, secondary orality. I’m fascinated by moments when people don’t realize the bridge between the digital and the physical. My techno world is far too always techno. You know anything can and will be blogged. But the rest of the world doesn’t.
As Barb notes, “it’s no different from any other meta-gossip.” So what does it mean to blog about it, to meta meta it, to meta it beyond any realization of gossip? There’s a koan in here somewhere.
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