Blog Theorization OverviewPosted: March 2, 2011
Hello, Fellow Bloggers!
Tomorrow Belinda and I will present on Steve Himmer’s article “The Labyrinth Unbound: Weblogs as Literature.” Here is an overview of the article and of what we will discuss tomorrow. Check it out:
As Belinda and I sifted our way through Steve Himmer’s “The Labyrinth Unbound: Weblogs as Literature,” we realized that above all, the author’s interest lies in the relationship that blogs form and strengthen the relationship between writers and readers. He raises arguments about the way the form of blogs classify them as pieces of literature, the way they differ from traditional texts, and their overall uniqueness in the way they function as significant elements of the literary/art world.
Throughout the article, Himmer relies on jargon that was completely foreign to me in order to describe the literariness of blogs. He uses the term “ergodic literature,” meaning writing that requires “significant, engaged effort on the part of a reader in the construction of the text—effort beyond the flow of eyes across words or the turning of pages.” This genre emphasizes the importance of grappling with multiple and continuous perspectives while readers ingest the writing, meaning that ergodicism focuses on process and technique over product. In particular, he classifies blogs as a special kind of ergodic literature because elements such as comment mechanisms, hyperlinks, and search options preclude the writers from imbuing readers with one, defined narrative, conclusion, or attitude about the content itself. These features, along with readers’ ability to access a blog at any point in its production render blogs as ergodic, and as pieces of literature that constantly redefine and strengthen the relationship between the reader and writer.
Unlike any other writing genre, blogs are fluid and constantly changing. To support this argument, Himmer discusses the advantage of time that blogs have over bound books and interactive fiction. According to Himmer, “There is no completion of a weblog,” meaning that blogs open themselves to public influence and to the whims/impulses of the writer. While blogs maintain this fluidity, traditional texts remain self-contained, discrete units that are permanently beyond the writers’ control as soon as they complete their work. This significant distinction between blogs and bound books/other texts speaks to the advantages blogs possess over other writing because they place a higher demand on readers to grapple with the content, and they from stronger relationships with readers. For example, Himmer asserts that the advantage of time allows bloggers to immediately converse with readers on the actual blog post, which will then affect the writer’s next post in response to readers’ feedback and opinions. In traditional texts, reader feedback must appear at a later time, in later works, which does not necessarily from as strong of a relationship between both parties as conversing in real time would. The fluidity and collectivity of blogs also supports their resistance to commoditization, as their element of time renders them difficult to contain them as one, complete work.
Finally, Himmer asserts the ways in which blogs align with avant-garde art principles. The flexibility of blogs allows its authors to intermingle personal content with public and political content, resisting fragmentation and forming a cohesive whole. In this way, blogs function as not only as a piece of literature, but also as a piece of art that further strengthens the relationship between the writer and reader.
Overall, Himmer maintains a sense of promise and hope for blogs throughout his article. He stresses the unique way blogs engage readers through their literariness, fluidity, and flexibility.