lively trivia
September 15, 2007 1:47 AM   Subscribe

He said "From what I can see, there are basically two types of people who use the Internet regularly-- the ones who write blogs and participate in sites like Flickr and MySpace, and there are the ones who only lurk and read what others have written. The problems with the ones who 'participate' are too many of them think anything that happens in their lives will interest the world. What they had for dinner at the restaurant, what stores they visited when they went shopping yesterday, who they talked to on the phone. The Internet has in unexpected and important ways democratized the airwaves. But in doing that, it also opened the floodgates of superficial, uninteresting sludge that fills up most peoples' lives." I had written something similar to those sentiments a long time ago on this blog so it was interesting to hear similar conclusions coming from someone else. He also said one of the distressing things he realized via web surfing was how lonely middle class people are and how much need there is in them to download the trivia of their lives on someone. From the website of Jonathan Carroll.
posted by landis (105 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by Poolio at 1:48 AM on September 15, 2007


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posted by Poolio at 1:48 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just had a bagel. With smoked garlic cream cheese. It was alright.
posted by limon at 1:54 AM on September 15, 2007 [5 favorites]


The ironic part is, he thinks that we're interested in whatever trivialities he has to communicate.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:54 AM on September 15, 2007 [8 favorites]


that is a really long link you have there, landis.
posted by Avenger at 1:58 AM on September 15, 2007


I liked Jonathan Carroll's writing until I realized that he basically wrote the same book over and over and over. Don't get me wrong; it's quite a good book. But I don't need to read it every couple of years under a new name.
posted by Justinian at 2:06 AM on September 15, 2007


This is just to say... I have eaten the bagel, which you were probably saving for breakfast. Forgive me. It was delicious. So savory and so warm.
posted by team lowkey at 2:12 AM on September 15, 2007 [15 favorites]


Third type - people who post long links to Metafiler?
posted by A189Nut at 2:14 AM on September 15, 2007


he's right, but who cares?
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 2:14 AM on September 15, 2007


From what I can see, there are basically two types of people who use the Internet regularly: those who eat the savory warm smoked garlic cheese bagels, and those who watch them do it from the other side of the kitchen windows while drooling.

*goes stalk the closest bagel eaters*
posted by Iosephus at 2:25 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, but you don't have to drown in the flood. Or something.
posted by liquorice at 2:27 AM on September 15, 2007


The third type is people who stay clear from MySpace and Flickr because they couldn't care less about the trivialities of other people's lives and who are also not interested in dumping their own lives on the internet. People who use the internet like a library/TV/telephone/afternoon tea party. I suspect those make up the majority of people I know.
posted by sour cream at 2:29 AM on September 15, 2007 [7 favorites]


Oh, and a fourth type is idiots who think that just because *they* regularly their favorite sites like Flickr and MySpace, everybody else must be doing the same.
posted by sour cream at 2:31 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


... regularly visit ...
posted by sour cream at 2:32 AM on September 15, 2007


The fifth type end up on Dateline.
posted by stavrogin at 2:34 AM on September 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


Then there are the people perpetually shopping for a used car. I hope they find what they're looking for.
posted by maxwelton at 2:36 AM on September 15, 2007 [4 favorites]


And? I suspect many interesting things happen on the fringe which, were it not for the internet/web, would go unrecorded. The signal to noise ratio is obviously low, but there may be gems there, and in any case it's pointless to complain about it. Don't like the internet? Don't use it.
posted by preparat at 2:44 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I thought this had been settled.
posted by Bokononist at 2:45 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I thought the main type are the people who look at porn a lot?
posted by liquorice at 2:51 AM on September 15, 2007 [4 favorites]


from the website of who, now?
posted by jonson at 3:02 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I never understand people who complain about there being lots of trivial crap on the internet. Have they not figured out the 'random-access' feature yet?

Or, what sour cream said.
posted by chrismear at 3:05 AM on September 15, 2007


These people are living in cloud-cuckoo land - too much boring trivial stuff on the Internet? Not enough, you mean. I won't be satisfied until every single thing that has ever happened is blogged in detail.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:22 AM on September 15, 2007


What a majestically oversimplified, grandiose assumption, and an unoriginal one at that.

Would Carroll be happier if we all lived lives like a Michael Bay movie?
posted by JaySunSee at 3:47 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


i've had this confused with jonathan strange and mr. norrell the whole time.

and i'm not even sure what that is!
posted by Hat Maui at 3:52 AM on September 15, 2007


Everything ever written is trivial to someone.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:03 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jonathan Carroll is a member of the major grouping of internet assholes: those who think it exists solely to market their dreck product to a gullible public.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:23 AM on September 15, 2007 [4 favorites]


Jonathan Carroll doesn't write the same book over and over; he writes with a lot of the same thematic material, yeah, but the same book over and over thing is handled by John Saul: Different dude altogether.

Also, Carroll's website is just a series of musings and almost no links, and it's sometimes as interesting as any I've read. I wish the musing at hand had been one of his better ones, but linking directly to any of them is hard, since the site navigation sucks pretty bad.
posted by cgc373 at 4:23 AM on September 15, 2007


Here is an excerpt from Kissing the Beehive, which is my favorite Carroll novel so far, although The Land of Laughs and Bones of the Moon are close in second place.
posted by cgc373 at 4:29 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


From what I can see, there are basically two types of people - those who create glib dichotomies as a cheap rhetorical device, and those who reject oversimple two-valued logic as a tool of social inquiry.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:33 AM on September 15, 2007 [30 favorites]


you know what they say Jonathan, it takes one to know one
posted by caddis at 4:44 AM on September 15, 2007


I don't think he's an asshole for pointing out the obvious. It's a throwaway paragraph on his blog; I don't think he wrote it thinking he had some grand insight to share. That said, is it...really worth linking to?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:07 AM on September 15, 2007


[shaking head] Kids these days, with their sideburns and Nehru jackets and iTextbloggerpods. . . .
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:10 AM on September 15, 2007


Agree with JaySunSee & ikkyu2. It's amazing how often you get really good fiction writers whose personal opinions on reality are blitheringly dim. Not everyone can be Mark Twain, I guess.

Also, wow, lookit that link.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:13 AM on September 15, 2007


This observation is not only hackneyed but wrong. Why assume these people think this material "interests the world" -- typically they don't. They think it may interest friends, they think they may find people of a similar ilk and it will interest them, they think it's a good place to save some observations and images for another day, and they just don't give a shit if the world can see it.

It's a fucking beautiful thing when those of us mired in trivia can hear the crickety buzz of everyone else's trivia, even if we don't want the details. It's out there and it does matter, even if uninteresting, why? Because someone is living through it.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 5:19 AM on September 15, 2007 [6 favorites]


I have created and taken down about 5 blogs in the same number of years.
My comment history shows why: I really have nothing very interesting to say to the Internet. I sit down with an idea and a few thoughts, and end up backspacing over them.
Take this comment, for instance. It' s absolutely boring me to to tears.
posted by disclaimer at 5:43 AM on September 15, 2007 [9 favorites]


"The problems with the ones who 'participate' are too many of them think anything that happens in their lives will interest the world. What they had for dinner at the restaurant, what stores they visited when they went shopping yesterday, who they talked to on the phone."

Others might disagree.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:45 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's just pissed old hacks being frightened by emergent forms of invention. They are threatened by all these new young creatives writing words & having them instantly appear on the screen, suddenly having access to a public, when before you had to go thru years of hard slog & rejection letters before you could even get close to publication. The same stench of fear you see from print journos criticising bloggers. The same stench I detected in the early 80s from classically trained musicians when digital synthesis appeared, OMG no moar tromboen!!!1! Horrendous lack of insight, basically.

Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all. Squares on both sides.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:47 AM on September 15, 2007 [7 favorites]


Good point about Pepys, I was thinking the same thing, StickyCarpet.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:48 AM on September 15, 2007


There are two types of people in the world. Those who classify the world into two types, and those who don't.
posted by Zinger at 5:48 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


disclaimer, that was the most boring thing I ever read.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 5:49 AM on September 15, 2007


I think the interesting thing isn't the posting trivia to myspace thing, I think the important part of the article deals with the isolation of the middle class.
posted by OldReliable at 5:55 AM on September 15, 2007


I like that people write about their trivial thoughts, because from time to time I'll also have a trivial thought, but then I can google it and more often than not read what a random few other people have thought about the same.

most recently this concerned my remembrance of a video game sound bite)
posted by Flashman at 5:58 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


OldReliable writes "I think the interesting thing isn't the posting trivia to myspace thing, I think the important part of the article deals with the isolation of the middle class."

Huh? I just thought he was plain wrong about that. If the middle classes are posting their trivia to blogs, myspace, whatever, a much more plausible reason for it, in my view, isn't that they are somehow isolated. Rather, it's out of an over-inflated sense of their own importance, and the idea that all it takes is for them to put it out there before somebody recognizes their leavings as the pearls of insight that they truly are.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:08 AM on September 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Amazing how threatened professional writers are by the internet and blogging. Now, if they could only fix it so the internet was just another delivery system for their beautiful words, and they could get royalties from another stream, that would be hunky-dory. But people not certified by the establishment, not represented by agents, never having signed a single contract, being able to write and have people all over the world read it and respond? Chaos! Anarchy! The final collapse of civilization!

Oh, and from Mr. Carroll's own website:

One of those schizophrenic days where the weather changes dramatically every five minutes between pounding rain and brilliant sunshine. I take the dog out for a walk in the sunshine but ten minutes later it starts to rain hard. The dog looks up at the sky and then at me, clearly confused. I can almost hear him ask what the hell's with this weather? His whole body slumps very humanly because he loves his walks but hates rain. Defeated, he turns around and starts walking towards home.

No comment.
posted by languagehat at 6:47 AM on September 15, 2007 [10 favorites]


Not "an over-inflated sense of their own importance" but a desperate hope that their lives may make some sort of difference beyond their own hopelessly limited social circle, in my view, PeterMcDermott, motivates folks to post their rambling, self-involved, neo-"insights." Publishing as an industry weeds out this sort of stuff to a very, very great extent, and what we're left with—all the published stuff—still mostly fails to appeal to any wide audience.

I'm not sure exactly what I'm getting at, except that I doubt it's self-importance; it's much more lonely and hopeless than that. YouTube commenters and other message-board denizens seem self-involved to me, but any weblog I've browsed through that's been up for longer than a few months, that has a maintained life with stuff posted every few days or weeks, seems less inconsiderate, more, I don't know, an effort of community. A hope for relevance.

Only people who actually have an audience feel self-important to me, and most random weblog surfing leads me to think the audiences are in the single digits or maybe in the tens for most people. In these cases, people are just hanging around with each other, not dropping "pearls of insight" in the sense that, say, journalists often try to.
posted by cgc373 at 6:52 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey, who ate my bagel?


There are also those people who download the trivia of their lives onto coworkers and strangers without the internet.
posted by craniac at 6:52 AM on September 15, 2007 [4 favorites]


His writing and observations are nearly as trivial and uninteresting as this post itself.
posted by LarryC at 6:54 AM on September 15, 2007


Ah, the 'internet is full of crap' sentiment again. Why is it always the most wholly uninteresting people who believe this?

The problems with the ones who 'participate' are too many of them think anything that happens in their lives will interest the world.

See that's an awfully dumb thing to say. It takes an extraordinary cynicism and shallowness to assume that most of the content on the web is meant to "interest the world." Just because you can access a blog does not mean the blog was meant for you. Just because the photo is 'public' does not mean it was taken to entertain you. The web is not like television; it's not created by soulless corporations seeking to manipulate. It's created by human beings most of which who could not care less about you and your trivial tastes.

I don't think too much of sites like myspace but I think even less of people who feel compelled to make charges of triviality about such sites. It reveals a shallowness and self-righteousness far greater than that indulged in by any blogger. I suppose a certain kind of consumer, a person with no inner life who sees everything through the eyes of other, can't really understand this idea that people would be willing to share their private thoughts and experiences with total strangers. This sort of person would necessarily assume that everybody is just as shallow as them and anything 'published' is done so only for the approval of others. They can't quite grasp the complex interaction of forces that go on when humans share with one another and so they always reduce everything to the basic producer/consumer model. This entire notion of a public/private space just entirely eludes them.

But though it may not be entirely obvious, places like flickr and myspace are such spaces. A social site like that is not a publication meant for the World but an intimate reaching-out for the Other. So it's safe to say that if you ever do happen across 'trivial crap' while exploring the web then you can safely assume that the crap was not meant for you. You are not the audience and , more than likely, you lack the context to appreciate why it's not crap and why somebody would take the time to share it. Rather than dismiss the content and running off to whine about all the crap on the web to your equally lame friends you ought to try just accepting that life is not like TV. Maybe over time you might even acquire a life that doesn't require you to always be the spectator.
posted by nixerman at 6:59 AM on September 15, 2007 [13 favorites]


Man I wish people would stop misusing the word "download".
posted by autodidact at 7:03 AM on September 15, 2007


it also opened the floodgates of superficial, uninteresting sludge that fills up most peoples' lives

Sorry, I thought he was talking about network television sitcoms.

Becoming involved in the trivial minutae of people's lives is called life. People are reaching out to each other. What does he think people talk about on the phone? Is everyone working out world peace? IT's stupid meaningless trivial crap "My nose is runny today, Bill got sent to Denver to a sales conference, etc."

The difference is the internet is a big place and if I want to ignore the stuff he's complaining about, I can read sother things of "GREAT CONSEQUENCE". But I can't do that on television, can I? I pretty much have to ignore the medium.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:12 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Man I wish people would stop misusing the word "download".

Yep, what craniac was talking about was clearly "sideloading."
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 7:16 AM on September 15, 2007


This is all very true - content-less blogs going on and on about nothing in particular.

It's a life projected from inside a gray cubicle, identical to a million other blogs, all written from another cubicle, just an office floor away.

You could watch a lightning storm from the 41st floor, but you're too busy typing away in your frigid cubicle about how you got drunk last night in your pajamas, what fun, maybe someone famous will read it, but they never will. You'll get drunk again tonight. Maybe it will rain.
posted by four panels at 7:24 AM on September 15, 2007


from what i can see there are two types of people who use clotheslines regularly -- people who gossip and trade trivialities and those who merely hang up their clothes

from what i can see there are two types of people who use watercoolers regularly -- people who yack about themselves and stupid things and those who are merely thirsty
posted by pyramid termite at 7:25 AM on September 15, 2007


TMI.
posted by ericb at 7:28 AM on September 15, 2007


This internet, It's popular?
posted by Wonderwoman at 7:33 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


LOL this thread proves his point, most people have nothing to say. Generational warfare is not what he is talking about, the Internet is not the domain of younger people, nor does it threaten to displace traditional forms of media, books, movies and music are selling as well as ever.

Everyone is a critic on the Internet, but no one is allowed to criticize the Internet. It strikes me as ideological zeal. The fact is the Internet has succeed, it is mainstream, it is the Microsoft of the networking world, utterly destroying every other networking model (most people don't remember there were other models) and now in every persons home. If we can't be critical of it then we are slaves to it. Most blogs are banal and unreadable - this is obvious.
posted by stbalbach at 7:42 AM on September 15, 2007


I somewhat agree with the quote. There are plenty of shit blogs. There are plenty of shit published authors too. For instance, I remember reading Carroll's collection of short stories. His formula seemed to be:

- take a somewhat interesting premise
- milk it 'til the conflict is just on the horizon
- end the story
- repeat

I never bothered reading one of his novels as he didn't seem to grasp that adding, using, and resolving the conflict is the part that interests most readers. This is something he has in common with the shit bloggers out there.
posted by dobbs at 7:58 AM on September 15, 2007


Oh, and this FPP blows. A wikipedia link and a link to an author's home page? Terrible.
posted by dobbs at 7:59 AM on September 15, 2007


One thing I've noticed on facebook is that every once in a while people feel the need to write essays about whatever it is that's on their mind. The only people who would ever even see that stuff are their facebook friends (i.e. anyone they've ever met IRL). But why would they care? And often times they're boring and cliched ideas that have been have been stated better somewhere else.

This essay falls squarely into that genera, boring crap that no one needs to hear again. To be honest, I'd rather hear about what you ate for breakfast and how your day went. I mean it would at least be Original.
posted by delmoi at 8:09 AM on September 15, 2007


Sure he's right. But you could say the same about people who write/read books, write/watch television programs, etc. There is nothing that makes writing/watching blogs so incredibly inane compared to the others. I mean, MY GOD, the number one television program in America last weeks was Two and a Half Men.
posted by spock at 8:18 AM on September 15, 2007


The problems with the ones who 'participate' are too many of them think anything that happens in their lives will interest the world.

This is much like arguing that the problems with books is that too many people write them and think that trashy romance novels, crappy science fiction, and crazed political manifestos are things that people want to read. Of course most blogs are crap. Most books are crap, too. Take the essays from all political magazines, including high school and university publications, and the majority are probably crap as well. You don't see Carroll complaining about that.
posted by deanc at 8:21 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Everyone is a critic on the Internet, but no one is allowed to criticize the Internet.

he didn't criticize the internet, he criticized empty headed bloggers

if neither you or him know the difference that's your problem
posted by pyramid termite at 8:34 AM on September 15, 2007


Blog postings, '40s style:
A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all, but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:34 AM on September 15, 2007


There is one type of person in the world.
posted by yhbc at 8:37 AM on September 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


What an amazingly ugly website, and with frames! I wish the local bagel place were open when I wake up on weekends. But it isn't.
Oh, stbalbach, just curious, but what other models were there?
posted by Grod at 8:41 AM on September 15, 2007


I've been on the internet far longer than most people and I just learned what MySpace is a few months ago. About the same time I realized "my god, this place is horrible" and my wife invited me to facebook, which I do use regularly.

However, they missed the most important group of regular internet users...those who create the stuff that other people enjoy and use. Not necessarily blogs, which tend toward random noise, but creative works and news sites and games and interesting articles and all the things that, IMO, the internet really is. Not a collection of peoples' home pages and blogs, but a large repository of useful information, tools and entertainment.

We're out here, but the media focuses on the lowest common denominator...same as in the 'real' world.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:58 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually, this thread makes me think about the nature of a literary career for minor writers like Carroll.

Such minor writers --- which he unquestionably is --- are the beneficiaries of vastly expanded literacy that began in the twentieth century. In earlier centuries, there were far fewer literate people, and thus far fewer professional writers and far fewer readers, per capita. Now, because of the expanded availability of an audience, a minor writer can make a "go" of a full-time literary career, without having to take on a time-consuming profession to make a living.

(Because of the comparatively smaller base of readers in earlier centuries, it was impossible for a lot of manifestly "great" writers to make a living by their writing, in the way that writers today can do. They had other careers.)

So, while writers like Carroll should be grateful for the expanded literacy of the populace that allows them to have a career, what usually happens is that they are grumbling about the banality of the things written by the literate masses.
posted by jayder at 8:59 AM on September 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


“Woke up to the alarm at 6:30 am. Got my son out of his crib, handed him to my wife. OJ + medication + forgot to take my multivitamin. Checked my email, Twitter, etc. Did a couple posts. Showered but didn't shave. Took care of my son while my wife went to the gym. He played on the floor a bit, we laughed and giggled together a lot. Good times. Then he got hungry so I fed him while watching Honey I Shrunk the Kids on cable. When my wife got home around 10am, I put him down for a nap, packed up my bag, and left for work. N train to Canal then a 5 minute walk to the office. Worked on some PHP for a couple of hours, making less progress than I would have liked. Caught a baby mouse in a drinking glass at the office. Went to get lunch with the gang. First and second choices no good, but ended up at an Italian bakery/deli on Mott. Turkey and provolone on a roll with mayo and lettuce, Pepsi, and potato chips (sour cream and onion). Gave leftover sandwich to the baby mouse, AKA ‘Feedy’. Sat back down at my desk. Selected ‘iToner’ from bookmarks list and waited. Error number NSURLErrorDomain:-1005.”*
posted by ericb at 9:00 AM on September 15, 2007


Some good writers (bloggers) can make even the most mundane events interesting. But there needs to be a law against posting about your dreams. The height of egotism has to be thinking that anyone else on the planet will think whatever went through your subconscious last night will possibly be interesting to anyone but you.
posted by The Gooch at 9:38 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are two types of people in the world: people who are supposed to be Internet commentators but have shitty web design skills, and their audience.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:49 AM on September 15, 2007


There are three types of people in this world:

Those who can count.

And those who can't.
posted by jason's_planet at 9:55 AM on September 15, 2007


What's odd about Carroll's lament is that it is so short-sighted.

Would he really prefer that fewer people document their lives?

A book that I admire is Journal of My Life (a book I discovered when my wife was assigned to read it in a college class on writings about ordinary life). It is the journal of an ordinary eighteenth-century glazier, and as the editor of the volume points out, it is extraordinary because it is one of the few diaries extant from that period that give a first-person account of what it is like to be an ordinary Parisian working person (who, interestingly, happened to meet Rousseau during the time recounted in the journal). It is a treasure for just that reason --- it's a valuable document of what ordinary life was like.

You would think that a person like Carroll, a professional writer, would value and encourage any social trend that results in more documentation of ordinary life: think about what a treasure that will be, in two hundred years, for professional wordsmiths like Carroll who want to know what it was like to be alive in 2007!

Compare the situation we are in now, with a comparative paucity of first-hand accounts of life in, say, seventeenth century England: we're so bereft of these materials, that reasonable people disagree about whether the London writer known as Shakespeare was the same person as the Shakespeare who lived in Stratford. We wish that more people had been documenting their daily lives at that time; imagine the value of a diary by a completely unextraordinary person that gives a personal account of this playwright Shakespeare. Not knowing the value that diary might have to future people, the diarist's contemporaries might malign him by saying, "Why are you recounting the details of your boring life?"

Carroll, I think, has fallen prey to one of the vilest of contemporary tendencies: the tendency to value sensationalism, titillation, celebrity, over all else. His view that all these dim members of the public are wasting their time and ours by presuming to document their pathetic, banal lives, seems really short-sighted for someone who presumes to be a literary person. (I totally agree, with this comment about Carroll apparently wishing we all lived lives out of a Michael Bay movie.) People have an natural, and understandable belief that their lives are of value, and any person who has a belief in human dignity should agree with that. Yes, the chances are slim that any one person's autobiographical musings will be of great value in the future --- but it is clear that any movement that involves the widespread documentation of ordinary life is an enormous social good, and it's shocking and revealing that Carroll doesn't understand that.
posted by jayder at 10:00 AM on September 15, 2007 [4 favorites]


cgc373 writes "Only people who actually have an audience feel self-important to me, and most random weblog surfing leads me to think the audiences are in the single digits or maybe in the tens for most people. In these cases, people are just hanging around with each other, not dropping 'pearls of insight' in the sense that, say, journalists often try to."

Perhaps we're just being influenced by what we like to read then? I could care less about people hanging around, waffling with their buddies on the internet. That tends to not even register on my radar. I like to read the work of people who care passionately about something -- whatever that is.

So when I do come across blogs where people are commenting on issues that they don't really care that much about, but they feel that they'll share their views with the world anyway, it's hard for me to see it as anything other than entitlement -- unless they truly believe that nobody else will actually read it, in which case, why publish it at all? Why not just send it in email to those you know care? Or keep a journal?

I have a question here: although I know that there are some bloggers who release their writing on the web at the same time as in print, whether for marketing reasons or due to political conviction, has there ever been a blogger who, when the publishing house comes a calling, turns around and says 'Thanks, but no thanks. The blog is my chosen medium, and I have no desire to join that group of people who publish via dead trees'?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:16 AM on September 15, 2007


So, like, I'm at the coffee shop. I'm just here, by myself, lurking. But all these other people, they're talking to each other! And I can hear them! But they're talking about the most banal stuff, like where they went for dinner last night! Who cares! Maybe I'll just lean a little closer to these two girls to my left. So what if they're just talking about which spa they're going to walk to after they leave here. At least they're hot.

I'm sorry, what were we talking about?
posted by ninjew at 10:19 AM on September 15, 2007


I have a built-in dislike of anyone who complains that "too many people" can do X because, obviously, not all of them are qualified to be good at doing X. Provided X does not equal "brain surgery" or other dangerous things, what's the harm? On what basis is a surfeit of boring blogs a danger to, well, anything?

And diaries, however dull, are an invaluable resource for historians. I don't think Martha Ballard's midwife diary was ever considered of much literary interest when she was alive or for a long time thereafter, but it is certainly a useful document now, partially because it was so mundane and gave us a glimpse into a life that would otherwise be unrecorded.

Provided they are are somehow captured and kept, how are MySpace pages any different?
posted by emjaybee at 10:21 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Banal whining. The only thing worse than trivial blogs is people who think they're better than those writing trivial blogs, and feel the need to tell us about how trivial everyone else's content is.

And if you don't think the Internet gets criticized, you're not paying attention. The Internet takes a lot of criticism from people who actually know something about it; it's just that most mainstream commentators don't understand enough about the nature of the beast to comment on it, and thus restrict their yammering to the content (thank god).

However, most people who do have a clue have only limited criticisms of the Internet generally, because it's frankly so much better than many of the alternatives that had been proposed and attempted.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:31 AM on September 15, 2007


This Jonathan Carroll, he's popular?
posted by blucevalo at 10:55 AM on September 15, 2007


stbalbach, just curious, but what other models were there?

Propriety systems like BBS's and message packeting, Appletalk. Novell. NeXTStep, etc.. late 80s and early 90s saw a lot of contenders for networking solutions (both LAN and WAN). I'm not saying these were better systems or that TCP/IP was a bad direction, probably just the opposite, but the "internet" (ie. TCP/IP) was one of many networking models. It's now so ubiquitous it's almost invisible as being an "option" or having a choice of networking. Although I hear some people still run dialup BBS's.
posted by stbalbach at 11:12 AM on September 15, 2007


This is just to say... I think the bagels are going bad.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:36 AM on September 15, 2007


There are only 10 kinds of people - those that understand binary and those who don't.
posted by anthill at 11:36 AM on September 15, 2007


Can someone explain to me exactly why there's a presupposition that the middle class are lonely?

Because first of all, I'm thinking that being a single mom or worse, an elderly widow in the projects, isn't exactly a social laugh-a-minute either.

And anyway, I don't see how we can claim one class is lonelier than another class. Loneliness and ennui and wondering about the point of it all is kind of universal. Human condition and all that, right?
posted by Zinger at 11:45 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Loneliness is ever so bourgeois.
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:58 AM on September 15, 2007


unless they truly believe that nobody else will actually read it, in which case, why publish it at all

I write a blog. I am 100% sure that maybe one person reads it on a semi-regular basis, and occasionally someone will encounter an entry, more than likely considering to be the crazed and nonsensical ravings of a lunatic. Basically, no one reads it.

I write my blog because it gives me a chance to express my thoughts in a medium that is potentially public, and because the maintenance of a blog challenges me to write. I've started and stopped too many journals over the years, there's just nothing keeping me attached to them. But with a blog, it's more embarrassing to abandon it.
posted by nasreddin at 12:15 PM on September 15, 2007


There are 1 kind of people in the world. Those who start counting from 0 and those who don't.
posted by deanc at 12:41 PM on September 15, 2007


According to Carroll, "The internet has in unexpected and important ways, democratized the airwaves." I read this excerpt as his disappointment in how the "middle class" is choosing to utilize this new found democratization. He didn't seem to be chastizing the readers (passive participants) as much as the writers (active participants) who are just thrilled to have this outlet to speak, yet speak about the minutia of their days instead of how they feel about what is going on in their towns, cities, their nation or the world at large, and trying to impact at least a little piece of that with this new ability to reach so many others.
posted by LiveLurker at 12:46 PM on September 15, 2007


Ridiculous. People come in many flavors: Broiled, barbequed, grilled, flambéed, puréed, sautéed, and sushied. I, myself, have been variously baked, fried, stewed, roasted, toasted, marinated, and smoked. And don't even get me started on the huge variety of available sauces and seasonings. The Internet, like all of humanity, is a Smörgåsbord. And Jonathan Carroll and all the spoiled leftovers of his ilk are more than welcome to eat me.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:55 PM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I, myself, have been variously baked, fried, stewed, roasted, toasted, marinated, and smoked.

I find myself baked and fried far more often than I would admit.
posted by nasreddin at 1:01 PM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh no, people actually try to inundate the Holy Web with the trivia of their pointless lives? My god, this is blasphemy! At the very least, it should be illegal.

Why, that's almost as bad as Web sites that publish links to trivial opinions about such things.
posted by bshock at 1:02 PM on September 15, 2007


Ridiculous. People come in many flavors...

'People' is the 'fruit of the Earth.' I like mine Bubba Gump-stir fried.
posted by ericb at 1:04 PM on September 15, 2007


Just watch out when Gordon Bell isn't the only one with a SenseCam and MyLifeBits, recording everything 24x7x365 and posting it to the Web.
posted by ericb at 1:07 PM on September 15, 2007


It's Raining Florence Henderson is a better writer than this dued.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 2:48 PM on September 15, 2007


Thanks for the links about Gordon Bell, ericb. Since he is doing a thorough job of recording HIS life at least, perhaps the rest of us can move on to something else? For those looking back to our times, he might make us all look a helluva lot better than we could hope to do with our own on-line journals, well with a few exceptions of course... like dooce!
posted by LiveLurker at 2:58 PM on September 15, 2007


I stopped by, read this, and proceeded to do a 'What's in my bag?' post out of spite.
posted by Orb2069 at 3:32 PM on September 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ok, Orb, I'll bite. What's in your "bag" that you needed to be spiteful?
posted by LiveLurker at 3:56 PM on September 15, 2007


What's in my bag: Nothing, I'm a dude and don't carry one.
posted by Justinian at 4:24 PM on September 15, 2007




Hit this instead, Orb. erichb, again thanks for the links that took me to this link. I wasn't familiar with this Bell guy, nor his project until now. This guy is a human guinea pig for step changes in future "human to technology to human" interfaces.
posted by LiveLurker at 4:33 PM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Uh oh, no link. Ok hang on while I hand type the link in. (Dang technology, that never seems to work for me!)

www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/05/28/070528fa_fact_wilkinson
posted by LiveLurker at 4:39 PM on September 15, 2007


There are zero types of people in this world.

Wow. I just blew my own mind. I love it when that happens.

But there needs to be a law against posting about your dreams. The height of egotism has to be thinking that anyone else on the planet will think whatever went through your subconscious last night will possibly be interesting to anyone but you.

I killed a man in my dream last night. I was on his lawn; he came out of his front door onto his porch, and I shot him through the head with a rifle. He dropped dead instantly. I entered his home and was impressed by his electronics setup. When others found him the next day lying on his porch, I tried to feign shock and surprise but was horribly unable to do so with any veracity.

I, myself, have been variously baked, fried, stewed, roasted, toasted, marinated, and smoked.

I'm baked, roasted, and toasted right now. If someone wanted to marinated, stew, and smoke me, I wouldn't complain. No frying, though. That's perverted.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:49 PM on September 15, 2007


Remember This? A project to record everything we do in life - by Alec Wilkinson May 28, 2007, New Yorker.

Sorry. Mild OCD.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:51 PM on September 15, 2007


You are grim, indeed, BUT, thank you for making that last link more accessible than I did just before you. Saute, anyone?
posted by LiveLurker at 5:15 PM on September 15, 2007


I dont care what Carroll thinks - I like reading the hum drum blogs of my Myspace friends and crushes. Lighten up whoever you are Mr. Carroll. Oh and by the way.. all you foodie parents on my PTA mailing list who get bent over potato chips and prepackaged food. YOU lighten up too ..

sheesh .
posted by celerystick at 5:41 PM on September 15, 2007


Frankly, celery, I didn't care about what Carroll thought either. Until I read what Carroll thought as it was presented here on Metafilter. Even then I wasn't moved so much to comment. That was until so many mefites chose to comment how he was trying to shut down "history in the making". Now it was at THAT point, I needed to know more about this man. BUT, before I knew it, erichb set me off on the Carroll/Bell connection. Ok, Ok, loose connection at best, but a connection nonetheless, least in my mind and obviously erichb's mind. In the meantime I have read more from Carroll's blog, which you all should when you feel like it. He is laying out "stuff" to ponder. If it moves you, fine. If not, fine too. For me, I thank Landis for his post and my first introduction to Carroll. Now this Bell guy? Keep your eyes on that one! He is leading by example. How many of you would be willing to have your life documented and archived minute by minute? Well OK, dooce, but aside from dooce, which one of you?
posted by LiveLurker at 6:17 PM on September 15, 2007


As one of those boring young people who keeps a stupid blog about my mundane life...

I keep it because it's easier than keeping a print diary. I've started and stopped doing that many times, but the thing about a blog is... you can't lose it. You can't run out of room in it. You can easily add photos to it. You can easily edit it. It's just... EASIER.

My friends who also keep blogs read it, but I'm not writing it for them or anyone else, I'm writing it for myself. And I haven't bothered to hide the contents from the rest of the internet because... why bother?
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:50 PM on September 15, 2007


I am an old person who has no interest in starting a...how you say it...a 'blog.'

Never-the-less, I am in debt, beyond words, in reading the words of those who chooses blogginess as part of their beingness on the planet. Bravo times Bravo. That means more than any x-type equation I could conjure up with my limited math skills.

My life has been enriched imeasurably by those who post their thoughts online, especially by those who link to other thinkers.

The world has gotten gooder!!! OMG!
posted by kozad at 11:13 PM on September 15, 2007


There are two types of people in the world. One type carries bowls of shit around with them, looking for someone to stir it up. The other type carries a stick looking for shit to stir up. This more than applies to the Internet.

I have my stick ready.
posted by sephira at 10:39 AM on September 17, 2007


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