Omisyth posted his (her?) thoughts on the long-lasting dichotomy of episodic and editorial blogs. As its title may suggest, the interplay of thoughts is an ongoing, consistently occurring one. Various points have been made. Kabitzin succinctly puts his opinion as “[i]t’s not that episodic or editorial blogging is better; merely, they are both ways to talk about and analyze anime.” I like this perspective since it wraps up some of my own thoughts not necessarily towards episodic vs. editorial but the way we handle reading and how the role of the blog and the author tie into this.
Blogging styles are just different approaches to analyzing and talking about anime – we’ve established that. But when reading all the posts and comments on this, as well as other meta posts, the argument is narrowly focused around the space of the blog, the function of the blog, the mere purpose of the blog (as it should be). The point here is to think a little bit more about the interaction between the four keys parts of the blogosphere – the author, blog, content and reader.
Perhaps in an earlier state the aniblogosphere saw blogs as autonomous entities, that it was the blog itself that produced content as if it were a seemingly animate organism. And perhaps this notion has changed somewhat with the massive surge of team blogs. Team blogs suggest that it is not the blog but the author that creates content, and that the blog is only a space that holds the content. You see, it seems like the essence of the blog is a trivial thing, only an aesthetic visage to keep readers “focused” on the content by utilizing the social processes behind the [anime] blog. In some ways, you could argue that the “blog” is in itself entirely a social entity or a discursive product. This differs from forums, out of which blogs may have possibly evolved, where you can easily get lost in the masses and where avatars and signatures are the only aesthetic and visual means by which you are able to distinguish yourself. Blogs, with their customizable themes/CSS, seek to alleviate the problem of individuality by giving the voice a recognizable platform on which to speak. [Of course not all forums are sink-or-swim, some allow or promote a greater sense of individuality, but blogs do take this to the next level.] The problem is that there are so many elevated platforms that the aniblogosphere becomes a maze, one where you can’t see very far because blogs simply aren’t contained within a single space (readers and aggregators fix this problem) and are limited within your niche unless you venture out via blogrolls, trackbacks, once-in-a-blue-moon-commentators, and so forth.
I wouldn’t say that blogs have lost footing to the author. It seems like we have blogrolls, not author-rolls nor specific-post-rolls. There’s a tendency to get caught up in the general representation of blogs, specifically team blogs – especially RandomC. Of course its house dish is the now-idiosyncratic episodic post, though Natrone’s entries are a rare treat. And exceptions like this precisely outline some of the pitfalls of the blog. This isn’t necessarily to say that we should abandon the blog in favor of the author, towards a seemingly postmodern setting where the blog becomes not an inert location but an amoebic space that acts as a refueling station to which kinetic, nomadic authors or contributors roam. But let’s speculate here:
What if all team blogs became mere receptacles for authors, and concrete locations that seemed like they were inextricably tied to founding authors (like Impz to THAT, Riex to OH! or BigN to Drastic)? I think this would really shift how specific content is distributed throughout the sphere. Blogs attract like-minded readers, and so avid readers would sign up to a blog, yet their content, insofar as it is very similar to what the blog’s prevalent authors already produced, would only propagate that specific type of content as opposed to a diverse spread of content; so to speak, the growth becomes vertical, not horizontal. This is enforced by the thought that people wouldn’t post content on a blog which makes it seem irrelevant – Chuchlann isn’t going to write about literary criticism on Yukan. It seems like blogs establish their own ideologies, codes to follow, specific rules of discourse to which you must adhere. Blogs essentially can act like frames, giving content additional meaning, or changing their “meta-connotation”. Trite material in a “serious” blog might come off differently than the same material at Yukan, typically a very “non-serious” blog. I think this is definitely a reason why some of Jacob’s (and mine) posts stir the shit the way they do. Readers that are attuned to the particularities of an author at one end of the spectrum are not necessarily accustomed to the rambling of voices that are clearly at the other end. To reiterate, and it should be obvious, specific content-driven or content-oriented blogs attract readers that are interested in such content. Superfani is one good case.1
So in the event that this method of blogging arises, how will that affect traffic? Given that content will be extremely centralized, will it then become monopolized? If We Remember Love evolves into a megalopolis that somehow stamped itself (de facto, of course) the king of all things mecha, would that effectively reduce the chance to zero any new blog about mecha? Perhaps. The point is traffic, of obtaining readers and opinions and discussion, so a nascent blog that has no traffic isn’t an attractive locus for the production of content. Would this discourage people from creating blogs? Hypothetically, yes. It would, however, promote people to contribute to already existing blogs. This goes into my last point: what would the role of the “author” become? Would the traditional role of the blogger remain? Or would team blogs then employ a method in which people sporadically contributed material, regardless of authorial position? In this sense, the blog becomes a kind of wikipedia-esque pool that isn’t limited by the voices of its primary authors but, instead, by the collective mindset of its readers and the content they find attractive and wish to propagate.
It’s funny, and disturbing, I just realized – that this method of blogging effectively transforms blogs back into forums, centralized, content-oriented spaces for specific discussion, instead of diverse blogs the way they are now. Hmm.
So, what are your thoughts? I’ll leave you with some questions:
1. What is the role of identity and individuality in the single-author blog and the team blog?
2. What is the social role of blogs? – is it more than just the directing of traffic?
3. Can you see the blogging tradition moving towards this speculative state and would you want it to or not (what is “good” for the blogosphere? What is “bad” for it)?
1 But then there are times when content strays from its portrayed norm and loses readership/traffic, BigN’s Hidamari Sketch posts an example, though that may just be because it’s harder to comment on them? He states himself that “it can be hard finding good motivation to keep at it (like myself keeping at these posts), and while keeping at it can be good motivation in and of itself to keep at it, sometimes you need something more, as can be shown here.” Though this perceived “lack of readership” is based totally off of the absence of comments.