A fault in blogs

NOTE HXA7241 2011-06-19T09:09Z

We ought not to be using blogs so much.

The driving structure of blogs is temporal. It is a stream of info fed to you; you are not in command. It is just like TV again.

It incapacitates your autonomy by jamming your novelty wariness system: you keep getting the message ‘Hold on, something is happening, better check it out . . . hold on, something is . . .’ – over and over.

This might partly explain the popularity of the blog-form and its attraction to producers. It exploits psychological function to hook people: it makes the content more compelling than it really is itself.

We over-value blogs: we spend more time on them than they are worth – the exchange is a kind of economic loss for us.

• • •

As Eckermann recorded of Goethe on Sunday 1830-02-21:

“I have determined,” said Goethe, “to read neither the ‘Temps’ nor the ‘Globe’ for a month to come. Things are in such a position, that some event of importance must happen within that time; I will wait till the news comes to me from without. My classical Walpurgis-night will gain from this abstinence; besides, one gets nothing from such interests – a consideration oftentimes left too much out of mind.”

‘Conversations Of Goethe’; Eckermann, Oxenford; 1850.

• • •

And this is detrimental to both sides.

When people want to produce information the popular choices are blogs, twitter, and similar features in facebook etc.. All with that temporally-dominant structure.

Think of Wikipedia: a rich information resource. But imagine if it were forced into blog-form. Anything anyone contributed was simply serialised into a big blog-stream, a feed of the latest snippets of activity. It would utterly destroy its structure, and consequently all its use and value.

So is not a substantial part of the information that people have or produce being filtered out by temporally-driven blog-like forms? And lost info structure cannot simply be mined back. If it is thrown away at the beginning, regaining it might well be costly or impossible.

• • •

So what instead?

Info structures are data structures: data structures for humans. With data structures, you choose them to fit the algorithm. So what are the human algorithms for these human data structures? What do we want to do with the info?