Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Ben Weyl, that enterprising young scamp, has a good post up on Strunk and White's Elements of Style, the book that every self-respecting writer needs to read so they can make themselves feel bad about their various grammatical insufficiencies.
Now, towards the end of the post, Ben wonders why writing on the Blogospehere is so damned sloppy. My practical answer is that there is so little time between writing and publication in the blogosphere it discourages editing. With much writing, a writer has time to leave a piece in a drawer for a day or two - or an hour or two - and then return to it with a fresh mind to add new ideas and prune the old ones - in other words, to edit. It's hard to write well without taking this time.
With the Blogosphere, you can just slam out some words in ten minutes and then hit 'Publish Post" and there you are: You're a blogger.
The annals of blogging contain a huge number of sloppy fuck-ups. Check out the interminable Lee Siegel, who coined the term 'blogofacisim'. He argued that blogging was an essentially idiotic way to communicate, but then made a huge fool of himself when he was caught ghost-writing self-congratulatory comments for his blog posts. It was like he got caught masturbating. After preaching against the horrors of masturbation. Actually, he was caught masturbating.
Or, check out The New Republic's resident crazy-guy-with-too-much-power, and his grammatically challenged rants on the New Blog Order. And my alma mater.
Now, I'm super-guilty of being a bit, say, rough around the edges with these posts sometimes. Just ask my dad, who as the only reader of this blog sends me a weekly digest of all my grammatical stuff-ups.
But aha! there is hope: While blogging might tends towards sloppiness, I think with restraint it remains a wonderful tool to communicate. It lets people like me assume a pulpit of possibility - and even if our readerships never expand beyond our families and our close friends, we are still engaged in the act of writing. And that act of writing and editing, of setting out our thoughts into a more less wispy form, helps us think better. At least I think so.
And the great thing about blogging: you can do it even if you're not wearing pants.