Blogging as Genre

The photograph here has little to do with the subject of this blog post – the genre of blogging. However one of my favourite aspects of blogging is how an image and a text can be placed in close association and the picture subtly informs the text. And the picture is fun, blogging is fun, right? Not everybody considers it so.

Perhaps my train of thought about those who blog and those who do not was in my mind as I took the path along the river. Perhaps the act of lying down on the path with my smart phone camera in ‘panorama’ mode, was a playful moment of production in the process of blogging. I was not taking a picture to remember the scene, I was enjoying the resources of a digital device and the freedom to play with the scene, to frame it in a new way, to express the pleasure that blogging, taking digital photographs and exploring the amusing viewpoints blogging requires.

Discussing Vie Hebdomadaires with several different friends, I discovered two distinct attitudes towards blogging. There are those that embrace it and are already doing it, in their various ways – political commentaries in a journalistic style; displaying art work or fashion interests; sailing or motorcycle travelogues. The other camp is just as intelligent, people who work in education or social work, artists, cosmopolitan travellers. but have never really got blogging. They reacted to my suggestion to contribute to Vie Hebdomadaires with excuses about not having the time for that sort of thing, about not really being interested in writing about themselves in a public forum, or about not having the technical knowledge to construct a blog post and produce a worthy series of six posts over a week.

So when looking for a blogger to follow-up my week at Vie Hebdomadaires I moved on to other friends who were already blogging in some form. My nieces Camilla and Becky Gilbey were engaged by the idea, but both seemed put off by a perceived intellectual and worldly seriousness that defines Vie Hebdomadaires. After a few days consideration they declined. Camilla has recently come back from 2 months in India and she runs a blog called Idea, You Gave me a Fright, Dear which explores the bleeding edge of alternative fashion and culture. Becky publishes a blog called Karob Illustration to display her illustration work. Becky illustrated my travel book ‘The Voyage of Storm Petrel. Britain to Senegal Alone in a Boat.‘ I thought they would have plenty of content to express and brighten the week with, that would bring the ‘perceived intellectual and worldly serious style’ down, to include a younger perspective. But it was not to be.

Blogging is an attitude towards Internet communication, it opens topics to public levels. Blogs are distinct from private emails and social media status updates. There is the difference. Facebook, Google+ and other mass social sites are designed to suck up trivia from people’s daily experience to perpetuate a miasma of egotism and Blogging is a writing genre which can bore and intimidate those who are content with Facebook.

I use Facebook, but reluctantly, for the occasional diamonds it can throw up. Recently there I connected with the friend of a friend who I had not seen or heard of for 35 years. I remembered, from my early 20s (the years when I was Becky and Camilla’s age) a vivacious, open, intelligent and humorous American girl. Her husband was in the USAF at Alconbury, near to where I lived in Peterborough.

Her friend said she would happily put us in contact, but cautioned me that she was absolutely non-computer literate and had no wish to use social media, or even email to communicate. For me this was a catastrophe, even if this anti-computer attitude spoke of the intelligent, independent, individual personality of my old friend, I could not get enthusiastic with such a limiting aspect to her public presence. OK, I thought, I’ll write her a letter. I remained discouraged though. I imagined the letters arriving every few weeks, hand written, maybe with doodled illustrations, or enclosed personal artifacts as tiny gifts shared. But I was really unhappy about renewing a friendship with someone who was totally unwilling to communicate digitally, instantly, fully. I could not share links, photographs, my music, or any aspect of the Web.

I have got so used to computers in my hour to hour activity I have actually become intolerant of those who reject them. Is a rejection of the whole computer world perhaps not a rejection of computers, but a subtle animosity towards communication itself.

Rightly or wrongly, I lost interest in this old friend, not because I’m too lazy to write and post paper letters, but because creativity in communication is a flow of ideas. Hand written letters are too fixed and staid and because the genre of personal letters is private. I prefer the public genre of blogging because it requires a wider perspective which is a stimulating environment for the imagination, demanding of a writer to write about the world and not about themselves.

As an opposite view I include a poster by Australia Post beautifully promoting the letter as a valid medium for communication. (Image copyright Australia Post)