Lots of recently discussions with friends about the purpose of a blog. It’s kind of asking about the purpose of a letter, or maybe even paper. There’s the question of what makes blogs real, and interesting when the whole act of observed composition seems likely to make them unreal and by that uninteresting or interesting but false. I’ll try to approach my feelings on it two ways.
First, there’s the whole Truth and Completeness thing. Nobody is going to be entirely truthful in a blog. They’re self-censoring just as if they were talking to you face-to-face. In one sense, it’s part of being polite. But deper, it’s an honest defense. The best psychiatrist can’t easily get the real truth out of anyone, so why should this even be a factor in our evaluation of blog content. And completeness simply isn’t a possibility or a necessity. You couldn’t possibly write down everything you did, you’d have to draw the line at some point. Evaluating your daily bowel movements is probably way below the include line, although I have no doubt someone out there is doing it. It does prove the necessity of the line, at least in polite company.
Then we’ve got the "interesting" aspect. Your blog needs to be interesting to others to have value. Now there’s a real bullshit line of reasoning. I’ll give two examples of why you can’t evaluate "uninteresting" data.
When my grandmother died we were in her house looking at what of her possessions we wanted to take home, just like all the other in-laws. A painful experience of greed and politeness. Anyway, there were all these little books full of tiny clear handwriting on one shelf. Diaries dating back to the 1920s. I read two or three pages of one and in my callous youthful evaluation I decided that the details of my grandmother’s lunch and afternoon cribbage session just wasn’t interesting. Now cut to some 15 years later, and one of the clearest recollections of my grandmother’s life is my fractured memory of reading those pages. I’m pretty sure the diaries were tossed, I’ve asked relatives about them to no avail, but I’d sincerely love to be able to sit down with them and read more about her.
A second and slightly twisted example are TV video recordings. When I bought my first VCR, I started archiving some loved TV series. In particular, Star Trek:TNG was on twice a week, and during the second broadcast I would record, pausing out the commercials. Years later, the shows are now all on DVD. What’s interesting about the old tapes is not the actual shows, but the tapes where I gave up on the pausing; the commercials I didn’t cut out. Sure most are crap, but it’s kind of like a time machine to go back and watch. Announcements of upcoming news broadcasts (OJ, CA Earthquake, Iran/Iraq war) and nothing captures current culture like commercials. Tapes and DVDs of old commercials are available now. Years from now you might end up buying a holo-cube recording of all that stuff you skipped over on your Tivo.
So what will the eventual value of Blogs be? I guess I’m saying I don’t know, don’t care. If it just ends up as a diary that our family can review, then that’s good enough for me. It might even be something more important than that. I’ve seen enough weirdness pan out into greater things later on, and if my friends and relatives can more easily share in the time between events, so much the better. It’s kind of like having everyone as your next door neighbor. You can choose either chat over the fence, or you can stay on your side, or both depending on your mood.