Thanks to The Reading Experience, I just spent an hour or so reading through some of the articles in the latest issue of Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture; they’ve got an issue on blogging. Here’s one excerpt, from danah boyd’s essay “A Blogger’s Blog: Exploring the Definition of a Medium”:
The blurring of spatiality and corporeality introduces the blurring between the public and the private. While outsiders are frequently horrified by what bloggers say under the impression that they don’t realize they are speaking in public, most bloggers are quite aware of the public nature of their performance. The difference is that this conception of the public in an embodied one. Everyday, people walk into public and talk about what is on their mind, what they are passionate about to their friends. Intimate conversations can be overheard on buses, philosophical ones in cafes, and playful ones in the park. The target audience is not the public at large, but those for whom the topics of discussion matter. For most people, the idea of speaking to a constructed audience in public is not a fearful one because a conception of public does not mean all people over all time and space.
In the physical world, there’s a desire to attract those of like minds by talking in public. There is often something joyful about having a person at a neighboring table join in an intellectual conversation or getting support, even in the form of knowing eyes, from a stranger on a bus. These kinds of interactions can introduce us to new friends. The practice of adorning oneself with fashion markers is often a call for potential like minds to come forward. We perform in public to see and be seen.
In the digital world, we use search to seek out strangers with similar conceptions of the world. We decorate our corporeal blogs and wander out amongst other blogs as digital flâneurs. The blogosphere is the imagined public sphere, the space inhabited by all of the public digital bodies.