Friend Thom Donovan's blog is turning five years old this week, ancient by online standards. He raises a slew of interesting questions about social networking tools and their potential, or lack of potential, to initiate and sustain radical social enclaves, relationships, collaborative friendships, communities. Since I started blogging for precisely the same reasons as Thom--the desire to connect with, or stay connected to, those friends and colleagues of mine that are now very far away since I moved to Washington State, I can really appreciate the stakes of Thom's post, one that doesn't ring to me as the oft-asked "is blogging dead?" Under Thom's excellent starter questions regarding how facebook has changed his writing habits at WHOF, tho, I take to be an interest, maybe not yet entirely worked out, in taking the blog format and doing something ELSE with it, something other than what WHOF has been doing, which, by the way, has been alerting us to deeply alluring critical-creative objects week after week. That is, I take Thom's blog to be one of the more consistently interesting blogs. Myself not in a big city, especially New York or the Bay, this chalkboard serves paltry fixings and makes for a rather skinny archive comparatively.
Thom does ask why it is that those of us on facebook--admittedly I am--don't use this platform in more (I paraphrase) interesting ways, for more sustained and radical projects. For sure facebook has been used for flash prose writing, collaborative poetry, etc., but I take Thom to be asking about the potential of the platform as a whole virtual ecosystem. I myself am simply reluctant to do so. Even here I'm reluctant to do much more than point things out, offer brief summaries of things I'm working on for more (to me) interesting environments, or adverting my books or Wheelhouse projects--not a whole lot else. Facebook is even less giving as potential to be a "book book" (Donovan evoking Spicer), I think because it's an even more corporate/miltaristic landscape than blogger (its contracts viz. turning over evidentiary material to private corps for instance are larger). Even so, that's not the only reason people shy away. I mean, there are several open-source platforms like blogger AND now like facebook that are not corporate, that do not come pre-packaged with the conservative donation schemes, etc. So I think, too, these platforms, oddly, since they are more interoperative, are less attractive as radical spaces, potential common areas. Greater interoperativity perhaps means less "control" of the shape of an archive. Or if not the shape, then the access to it. Maybe this is untrue, but if it isn't, what does it mean that the more interoperative the software or platform, the less likely artists are to use it for artistic purposes, eg? Under various names I've used porn sites as insurrection platforms, places where I can "inject" video poetry as upload into the environment, and tho I'm not claiming these pieces to be particularly fascinating artworks, I am drawn to the porn site, especially the amateur site, for reasons of non-interoperativity (low number of options of use, few options with regard to different ways to interface with other platforms).
Anyway, I do hope blogging stays vital, given that many times in my classrooms I've used blogs such as WHOF as portholes and for use towards critical essaying, as ways to model different conventions given different constraints put on us by the environment and media themselves. But I also like that not a ton of people read my blog (or at least I'd imagine not a ton do), as I am writing to specific people, am writing half-cocked (this, a place where I can semi-publicly, semi-privately, try out questions to see if the "fit" or to share in something I think people I know more or less well would like). That is, I'm writing to people who I largely consider my friends, colleagues, and am, despite the distance and the indirectness, in a kind of conversation, trying out ideas before I enter into a sustained relationship with those ideas, asking friends or would-be friends what they think of x or y, or to take a look at a or b--because these, since 2007, are people I can't just call up and make a date to see. The 1 on 1 conversation, as I am always wont to say (in accordance with a kind of organizing ethos) is what I'll take nearly any day. Well, beyond admitting that this blog is, in part, born of loneliness, there are very good other reasons to play with this particular medium, to see what radical potentials it has, and I think WHOF and other places do this. Black Radish Books' blog is now, like other places before it, trying out ways to make the site a place of real-time gathering. So I admit there's that interest too for me, though perhaps not as strongly so as for Thom, whose constant push to radicalize environments in the service of friendship I really admire....
And so on that note, here's to the 5 years of WHOF! And here's to what's next for the blog.