In a way, academia has always been blog-like, only at a slower level. A scholar publishes
an idea, then some one writes another and references the first scholar, and then more
proliferate off of that material, and then some more people go to graduate school and dig up
that stuff and write more stuff about all the stuff, agreeing, disagreeing, making FINITE
differences, declarations, arguments, assertions etc. Some scholars, like Freud or Plato
for instance, are likely to be academically and culturally rehashed forever. They represent
some of the foundations of how we have structured western meaning.
When I mentioned Berners-Lee's discussion of STRUCTURING information and meaning, I was also
thinking about how we, as scholars and thinkers, keep restructuring what we already
Take, for example, another of my favorite conundrums: the dual ideals of the purist starving artist, and the purist artist who is not starving. The hungry guy may well
think that a commisioned piece to feed his family is a good thing, and the well-fed fella can
afford to turn his nose up at less-than divinely inspired art.
In her paper on Feral Hypertext, Jill quotes Mez Breeze talking about the unmarketable
aspect of her work:
"It seems evident that various web/net/code artists are more likely to be accepted into an
academic reification circuit/traditional market if they produce works that reflect a
traditional craft-worker positioning. This "craft" orientation (producing
skilled/practically inclined output, rather than placing adequate emphasis on the conceptual
or ephemeral aspects of a networked, or code/software-based medium) is embraced and
replicated by artists who create finished, marketable, tangible objects; read: work that
slots nicely into a capitalistic framework where products/objects are commodified and hence
equated with substantiated worth."
This quote offers a not so subtle derision toward a capitalistic marketplace, and makes
assumptions about why "conceptual" and emphemeral" aspects get neglected on the web, if they truly do
get neglected. Again, it's presented as a dual concept, but nothing is so simple as this or
If an artist deliberately creates elusive or intangible work, how can she begrudge a lack of
community surrounding it? The web itself began as a conceptual idea, and then had to evolve
into tangible system.
But, really, if Mez's work is not intended for sale to begin with, what is, in fact, the
issue? "Adequate emphasis" is an ambiguous assessment. Her work is creative, but also a
call back to ancient languages, and, is also, overtly experimental. She wants to
criticize a capitalistic framework that excludes the intangible, but it is this same framework
that enables many artists to earn some income from their work. Breeze's work does not have
a large appeal, nor is it really accessible to the mainstream audience. These factors are
inherent to so-called "feral hypertext" that do not "follow the standards."
In the same vein, blogs are not really meant for commoditization, just as non-literary
diaries are not generally written for commercial purposes.
Walker brings up discipline on page three of her paper and one of the essential issues of the
web--regulation. Beyond the text, the web is another marketplace. People publish their
ideas, trying to sell them. The web is convenient, but also formed into a replica of the
rest of contemporary western life. Even as an information source, the web can connect an idea for you, but
you have to be willing to follow. The user still steers the course ultimately.
On page seven Walker discusses Justin Hall's past personal/public blog and suggests that the reader herself can define
the extent of his narrative; where did it end being Hall's narrative. Here we are again with the broadly scoped word "narrative." It
seems pretty basic to me. Hall wrote what Hall wrote. Anything else that others wrote
about his blog, he did not write. Anything that is read by some one has an afterlife beyond the initial text, but
that is not to say that the author can claim that "narrative."
Walker goes on to say that in a sense, she is "already trapped by an idea that boundaries
are neccessary." Not really. Sure, an individual uses hypertext, and individuals
collectively comprise the masses. An unplanned
structure is not uncontrollable, neccessarily. And the very nature of the programs and
tools we use to access the web ensure that we're not going to exceed the planned activities.
The medium is the message? The message is the medium? It's all pretty well contained and
overseen quite closely, relatively speaking.
I'm well aware that I might need to give Walker's paper a closer read. This is all pretty
off the cuff. Perhaps, also, I'm not convinced that the word "feral" is appropriate for
what she is describing. It doesn't resound with the topic in my mind.
Posted by wood0072 at October 29, 2005 8:48 PM