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Thursday, June 12, 2003

Blogging and Discourse

In this post, Jeff Ward uses a few metaphors to describe blogging: "show and tell:, "soapbox" and his favorite - "the footstool":

At the end of the day, I prop my feet up and diddle with ideas that have persisted. This medium is sort of like an extension of my living room�a comfortable place where a few people drop by, many of which have been reading me for a long time. Occasionally (and sometimes unfortunately) I get linked by someone who causes a big spike in my normally low traffic. My footstool gets kicked out from under me, and is replaced by a soapbox. I�m not sure how healthy that is. I like having a low profile.

He also points to a piece by Oliver Wrede from the Blogtalk Conference in Vienna, entitled Weblogs and Discourse. This is a good read for anyone who takes blogging seriously or is seriously blogging:

Weblogs combine two oppositional principles: monologue and dialogue. A reaction to a statement is not only directed to the sender but also to unknown readers. Very often the weblogger gets feedback from unexpected source: new relations and contexts emerge. This (assumed) undirected communication developes to an open and involving activity.

Weblogs not only enable interaction with other webloggers, they offer a way to engage in a discoursive exchange with the author's self (intrapersonal conversation). A weblog becomes an active partner in communication, because it demands consistent criteria for what will be posted to a weblog (and how). This �indirect monologic dialog� of weblogs allow to conduct communicative acts that otherwise would only be possible in very particular circumstances.
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Discourse is about relations - and not just about standpoints. It's not a pool of arguments and statements but rather the temporal structure of communication that has to be paired with a development agenda (or at least an intention that is shared among all participants).

Discourse never ends � or at least: it will end in the moment nothing is said anymore. The same is true for weblogs: in the moment there are no new posts weblogs will degrade to ordinary websites [A]. And because of that weblogs are by definition an almost daily activity for their creators that naturally require a high level of attention.