The Book of Blogging by Jill Walker traces & depicts the history of communication all the way back to when ideas were conversed orally. Let’s take a look at Plato’s objections to writing and how he might actually be impressed with what blogging can do for our society!
Plato & Writing
Plato, which I did not know prior to reading Walker’s chapter, had several objections to writing. He believed that with writing, our memories will be weakened because why would anyone memorize anything if it is already written down? (33) Plato also argued that a written text is unresponsive. He believed that writing cannot respond to questions and writing cannot defend itself. Basically, Plato believed writing is a poor substitute for speaking. Now you may be wondering what this has to do with blogging…Well, with the invention of the internet, let’s take a look at how the Internet (& blogs specifically) is actually very similar to oral communication.
The Public Voice
I think it’s safe to say that almost everyone wants their voice to be heard. Many studies have been done to prove that people are eager to share their thoughts & opinions. Jürgen Habermas introduced this idea of a ‘public sphere,’ which is a space for debate where people’s thoughts & ideas can expand. Since blogs are the epitome of the sharing of ideas and opinions, many other mainstream media publications are now evolving & changing so that people are given a chance to share their views too! Newspapers have expanded the traditional ‘letters to the editor’ column so that people can comment on individual articles in their online editions, promoting online discussion boards.
With that being said, blogging can now act as conversations: between the blogger and the reader & even readers with other readers. In a sense, blogs are actually the complete opposite of the downfalls Plato argued about writing. Blogs are now responsive and can defend themselves! So don’t worry Plato, I think you might actually have liked blogs.
Blogs also serve as a perfect outlet for mass communication. Unlike Plato’s oral tradition, blogs have the ability to reach everyone on the internet, even if their blog might not be famous! Once one idea is introduced, blogs give us the ability to expand and combine our thoughts to that one idea. This then leads us to the idea of immediacy…..
Ultimately, blogging is a way to promote discussions and arguments. In that sense, it is different from any other form of writing. Yes, people have had discussions and arguments over published works, but blogging is unique because it is immediate. You don’t have to wait for your thoughts to be published or for your mailman to deliver the newspaper. With the click of a button, your thoughts can be posted on the internet and receive comments immediately. Comment your thoughts!
Walker introduces two concepts: technological determinism and co-construction. Technological determinism is the idea that the internet regulates the public and affects the way we live. Co-construction is the idea that there are “mutual dependencies between technology and culture.” (53) This means that each of these halves (technology and culture) make a whole when put together. So which one is it? I definitley agree with both of these ideas (as I’ve talked about in older posts). I think that all technologies affect the way we live, both positively and negatively. Not only are individuals reliant on the internet, but I think the internet is also reliant on individuals. In today’s society, individuals are practically forced to engage with parts of the internet.
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