Wednesday, June 15, 2005

WWJB: What Would Jefferson Blog?

This editorial by Jason Pontin of the M.I.T. Technology Review draws parallels between blogs and the commonplace books of the 17-1800s, such as those created by Thomas Jefferson. These were like scrap albums into which bloggers of the era cut-and-pasted articles from Ye Olde Gazette, which they then annotated with their opinions, observations, and ideas. These musings included what they were slaughtering for dinner, when they were going to wash their garments in the creek, and why they never seemed to have any time to transcribe all the manuscripts they really want to transcribe.

An excerpt from Jefferson's forays into Blogosphere 0.01, courtesy of the LOC. The preceding page listed five things in John Stuart Mill's pantry.

Pontin also cites an essay by Ellen Gruber Garvey in this collection (note the typo in the first sentence of the review. Hmmph!) in which she describes both the olde practice of clipping, annotating, and passing commonplace books around and the current blogging phenomenon as gleaning, which is as OK a way to describe it as anything else. She gleans this phrase from some French theorist I never heard of who is big on the idea of reading as poaching (even though the just-linked reviewer is not). I am now keeping my eyes open for an opportunity to use the phrase "Integrating the Wheat with the Chaff."

I somewhat identify with this quote:

I recently began writing a Web log, or blog (under protest: starting a blog at this late stage feels a little like developing an interest in disco music in 1980)...

But on the other hand, as we were saying at work the other day, in serial killer movies, you never want to be the first cop through the door. There's something to be said for hanging back with the rest of the pack until the moment is right.


Post a Comment

<< Home