Prismatic personas

In an October 1999 article in the New Statesman, published before the new generation of Web logs, Andrew Brown described the anarchic nature of blogs as “the disorganized record of the voyagings of an intelligent mind,” somewhat resembling “the captain’s log on a voyage of discovery.”
To him, blogs hearken back to this image of the origins of the World Wide Web. In blogs, one can find “that educated, anarchic spirit rather as I imagine medieval universities to have been, full of wandering scholars….” And, indeed, the anarchy and the quirkiness are some of the blog’s appeal.

Yes, and which face will the prism reflect now, and now, and now. Extremely new to Web logs I find myself enthusiastically considering the possibilities of the medium entirely undaunted by the fact that what I express here is exceeedingly unlikely to say anything new.
Again Indulge me – or not.

It is the identification of persona on a blog that interests me and the extent to which communication of personal experience can provoke interest beyond itself – and the extent to which it can be a jumping off point into the unfamiliar or the uncomfortable.

This is a pretty didactic approach and relies heavily on the supposition that blogging is, among other things an educational practice. If it is, then it can only be effective when both teacher and learner have established common ground. What I’m wondering is, just how extensive that common ground can become, and how much of the unfamiliar can therefore be absorbed?

I’m beginning to think weblogs occupy a fairly unique space regarding information exchange. The exchange is dynamic and continues to define itself. It has expanded since it’s inception far beyond diarizing, to include a social/political/literary aspect and is currently growing commercial interests. These categories are clumsy and incomplete, but I’m hoping you can deduce what I mean for the sake of brevity here.

It is a forum that may also be able to expand and develop the concept of author and point of view before a wide and relatively diverse audience. The traditional views of private and public spheres are fragmented almost beyond recognition by the internet and particularly, I would argue by the blogging phenomena, precisely because blogging allows authors to develop a complex persona over time, topic, public sphere and personal voice – perhaps even to the extent that a ‘well rounded’ human being can emerge from behind the text, rather than a single dimensional author or commentator.

I could be entering la la land here, so I’ll qualify, if not a human being, at least a multi-dimensional persona.

You might very well respond with. ‘You’ve just described ‘blogdom’. You are wishing for what is already there.’ I disagree. The sheer size of the place diffuses the kind of multi – dimensionality I envisage.

Difference needs to be concentrated and tolerated in order to create the kind of discourse I imagine. Concentrated, perhaps within a single site. Graphically it would be a Venn diagram of interconnecting circles – a community of ideological risk takers.

So who cares? I do, because I want to be able to say what I want, when I want – here’s the rub- and be heard. A blog site has the potential to raise issues, increase awareness and tolerance as well as encourage play. It is brain gym.

Yes, the participants are most likely to be the A, B’s and maybe C’s – (do we still categorise target audiences that way?)But there is also the slim chance that by making our humanity self-evident we can also connect a greater number of folks to a greater number of issues and a greater amount of thinking – sounding very Mills there. Time to stop.

Sub-text: I just wanted to explain why I write, what I write, why I think it has value, and why this may be a forum for me – my personal position – well one of them.

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David Tiley
2022 years ago

Hey, you did it. Free from Mr Parish, you return to full lucidity. :)

Blogging is anything that occurs on a screen that you don’t get arrested for, which is laid out according to a calendar.

I only have two rules – I don’t want to make a fool of myself and I don’t want to hurt anyone by being indiscreet.

I reckon blogs are like rock and roll. There’s very little new in it, but so what? The important thing is that it is us saying it, and saying it now.

This is all a long way of saying: suck it and see. Keep smiling and have fun.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Here’s the text of an email I sent to “B” about this post. I thought it was worth sharing:

I see you posted the “Prismatic personas” essay. It doesn’t seem to have provoked much reaction so far, except from David Tiley. I’m sure Gianna will comment when she recovers from baby-induced sleeplessness, and Wendy James when she gets back from her week’s holiday. As for others … well … it DOES tend to suggest the feminists have a point about the public/private stuff. Otherwise why are most of the bloke readers so disengaged from an essay that is very well-written and raises a plethora of issues? I’m tempted to chuck in a comment about the feminist analysis, but I know you don’t want the discussion derailed onto that track. Let’s see what happens over the next day or so, and I’ll throw that match into the fire if debate hasn’t otherwise been ignited.

2022 years ago

The arena of personality is not one that many ‘blokes’ like to get into. Maybe they think they’ll castrate themselves if they start thinking about how they are.

What I’ve noticed though is that lots of men are lonely – lots of men are also bored in the company of blokes. Lots of men like the mixed company they come to take for granted when partnered. Partnerless they are thrown into a male domain which they – the men I know – seem to find less satisfying than the female domain I found myself – as a female – cultivating and enjoying – although, I did lack balance and
consciously went out to find men I liked, but most of them , to my dismay – ARE boring. They don’t engage with the personal by and large they would rather talk sport , politics, economics, or cars , bikes, motors and computers – about stuff and good on ’em. I like that stuff too, particularly when accompanied by shameless and absorbing self-analysis that comes so easily to women and which on it’s own is JUST as tedious as cars and trucks and bikes and things.

I just wish more men would make the effort to cross – over, because guess what – most women and their personal repetitive fuck’n stories bore the livin Bjesus out of me too.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Me again… the sex division on the internet is just extraordinary. It’s a voluntary and totally uninstitutionalised activity, with no physical contact and no competition unless you buy into it. It is often done by just those people who are enraged by gender stereotypes. And yet, boys do politics and girls do personal. Not just in the blogging, but in the comments.

In Australia at least, its often the girl bloggers who are very popular ….. partly because of the mix of personal and public, partly because the travelling surfer often wants a holiday in someone else’s world which is not about Big Issues and Ranting but doesn’t want to play yet another dumb flash game.. time out in a place of grace like boynton or loopylu..

And once again, when the girls do politics, they are often just great. Think Wen, Gianna, Helen at Cast Iron, Suzy Kruhsze (very occasionally) and Jill Rush (in comments).

I think part of my preference, for me as a non-professional at trained discourse, (drama degree, for god’s sake) I prefer public discussion which makes sense of experience rather than chops logic.

But I don’t do personal.

James Russell
2022 years ago

Ken, it’s not that I’m disengaged from the essay, cos the issue of online personas is one that interests me very much. Just need a bit more time to take the essay in before formulating a response.

2022 years ago

I think it is refreshing to read people’s blogs or journals when they put at least some of themself in it, whether they write about personal things or not. Links with explanations or commentary can be interesting, but i don’t think it necessarily keeps you coming back to read. Self-revelation can give you more idea why they think what they do, which is something i’m always interested in. Like you say, there is then a person(a) behind the lines on the page, not just a by-line.

2022 years ago

Some one suggested to me the other day that men and women are not the same. Wherever do people get such notions?