Saturday, April 12, 2008

First post

So, I've started a blog.

The backstory: I finally started keeping a regular journal, after years of telling myself I should but never doing it. I found it useful to type up my Moleskine notebooks later on — this made it feel more structured, and it gave me a permanent backup. So then I toyed with the idea of putting it online. (Paper is so transient — you need to put content on the internet if you want it to really endure.)

But that wouldn't work. I'd need to censor so much that's too personal or too boring for other people — the result would be just a desiccated version of a diary. On further reflection, I realized that the thing to do is to cull whatever useable material happens to be in the Moleskines and then freely add to it — links, elaboration (I usually write on my lunch break, so I'm pressed for time), etc. So that's what I'm going to do.

I want the blog to be personal. After all, it's currently invite-only, though that's likely to change as I get more comfortable with the idea of having a blog. [UPDATE: I made the blog public about a week later.] But there are a couple things that "personal" decidedly does not mean here.

Does it mean embarrassing confessions? No — as Summer Anne Burton recently pointed out in her manifesto, you don't need those to be perfectly open and honest with people. Well, then, does it mean invading other people's privacy instead? Of course not. I'm sure I'll occasionally described interactions with other people (maybe you), but I'll try to keep these anonymous. (If I do write anything that you feel is an invasion of privacy, please let me know so I can fix it.)

Does "personal" mean a blog that's obsessively self-centered and introspective, confirming all those critics of blogs as internet-powered narcissism? I certainly hope so. I'll do my best.

One topic I'm going to try to avoid is the 2008 presidential race. Now, I am planning one post that will be a look back at the primary (there isn't a real primary left anymore), but beyond that, I don't want to be posting about "crucial moments" or "important insights" as they come up in this race. To the extent that I want to share any 2008-related links, I'll do so on Facebook or as comments on other blogs.

I don't plan to stick to any particular schedule. I certainly won't come close to my mom's record of posting every day for over four years. I'm writing this in a big Moleskine notebook over brunch at Mother's, to be typed up later. I want this to be a leisurely, contemplative blog, not a "Here's what's going on this second" blog. There's probably a greater excess of content in the world right now than at any previous point in history. We have a glut of content but a dearth of thought. I'll try to correct the balance.

And as you can see from that statement, I'm also trying to avoid the false modesty that's rampant on the blogosphere. So many blogs pitch themselves as "random babblings" or "incoherent rants." Why all the self-deprecation? Anyway, I'll have none of that here! I either want to do this well or not do it all. Let's see how it goes . . .


Ann Althouse said...


Good luck!

Oh, and: First!

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

An incisive and convincing manifesto for your first post, John. I'd want to read more even if I had no idea who you were. As a former blogger and present human being, I take to heart your comments about degrees of confessionalism, frequency of posting, false modesty, and the joys of narcissism.

Ann Althouse said...

Hi, Richard.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Hi, Mom and Dad!

Ann Althouse said...

Chris needs to stop by so we can have a family get-together.