Last weekend I sat in my spare room and went through all my study notes, readings and assignments from my university degree that I finished six years ago. As you can probably tell I have some trouble throwing things out. I did keep one notebook from a subject I particularly enjoyed which I’m glancing through now.
The subject was called Writing Lives which I did in 1998, and it was about writing and reading biographies and autobiographies. For my spoken presentation I presented about personal homepages on the web. Even before blogs lifted off the ground I was fascinated by people putting personal stuff up on the internet for all to see.
I found some personal homepages on Yahoo and they still exist – probably not the ones I focused on but people still do it the non blog way.
I do wonder in years to come if our blogs will still exist somewhere online. I know the National Library of Australia is archiving some blogs. They’ve archived Loobylu and I’m sure they will archive others of some note. The more ordinary ones might get lost in the ether never to be seen again.
I think all blogs are a great historical reference and for somone in 100 years time to look back and read them would be an invaluable source of information about anything blog writers are writing about in our society and culture.
Apart from letters sent via snail mail in the past and people’s written journals there’s been nothing like blogs as a source of social history ever before. Being able to search online is much easier than finding old letters and journals and trying to decipher the writing.
I’ve got a quote in my journal that I wrote while studying my Writing Lives subject from a book called ‘The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in a Electronic Age’ by Sven Birkerts. I haven’t got the actual book in front of me but this should be word for word from page 118:
‘The printed word is something we’re moving away from, by choice or societal compulsion. This isn’t the first such shift in our history. In Greece, in the time of Socrates, several centuries after Homer the dominant oral culture was overtaken by the writing technology. In Europe in the late 15th century when Gutenberg invented movable type. In both cases the long-term societal effects were overwhelming, as they will be for us.’
Personally I love the printed word and I still read a hell of a lot, both newspapers and books, but I read a lot online as well. But the question is will online writing overtake the printed word?
In The Weekend Australian Review last weekend, March 18-19 there was an article about the death of the Australian literary novel. Dawn Cohen said in the Australian Author journal, ‘A baby born during the bubonic plague … had more chance of celebrating its first birthday than a new Australian novel published today.’
The Weekend Australian Review article goes on to say that more Australian publishers are globalised where they have to answer to the shareholders and to head offices in Europe and the US. In addition publishers are only publishing what people want more of at the moment, non-fiction, which is selling at four to one books compared to fiction.
Perhaps, along these lines, good blog writers will turn to writing their own non-fiction as an extension of their blog, and hopefully make mega bucks. It seems to be the time to do it and their blog could be their marketing tool.