Thursday, 8 October 2009

Biography, Winter 2003: 1

I've already written [click here to see] about the issue in the journal Biography devoted to Online Lives. I read the first article, Screening Moments, Scrolling Lives: Diary Writing on the Web by Madeleine Sorapure this morning and I am now writing up the notes that I pencilled at the time.

As with my posts about tutorials, I am doing this for my sole benefit, to find out whether this particular use of a blog is an efficient way of storing notes: it is certainly an incentive to writing them. My comments on the main points in the article are in square brackets.

An analysis of online diaries suggests some of the ways in which autobiographical stories and subjects are shaped on the Web. The computer as a writing tool, and the Web as a publishing medium, influence the practices of diary writing, affecting how diaries are written, what is written and to whom, and how they are read and interpreted.

Research initially focussed on
(i), with its quarterly prizes for best this, that &c. [Written in 2002: this site now gone]
(ii) "Cher écran" Journal personnel, ordinateur, Philippe Lejeune. [Available from for EUR21.09, where it has this 1* review: Un livre bâclé (thrown together). Beaucoup de témoignages de gens tenant un journal intime sur leur ordinateur, assez peu d'analyses. L'auteur se contente de compiler les propos de ses correspondants. Au final c'est un peu vide. On l'a connu plus inspiré. Un peu cher pour ce que c'est...]

A diary is both text and artefact. What is the artefact of an OD (online diary)? [Does it matter?] OD ephemeral, c.f. paper, but permanent [?] with e.g. Wayback Machine. ["As of 2009 [update] the Wayback Machine contained about 3 petabytes (1000 to the power of 5) of data and was growing at a rate of 100 terabytes (1000 to the power of 4) per month, as compared with the 12 terabytes/month growth rate reported in 2003."]

Typical ODs, such as Diarist Best Design 2002 [this site now gone], has segmented home page. Bits of diary text are items of data which can be sorted by the reader according to the segments specified by the diarist.

PD (physical diary) characteristics: (i) chronological (ii) publication (if ever intended) not immediate (iii) designed to be read A-Z, earliest first

OD characteristics: (i) chronological only if not segmented (ii) publication immediate and universal (but some attempts to restrict access to parts or all) (iii) designed to be read Z-A, latest first

Diary entries show parataxis [Each bit is potentially standalone and of equal importance, with none subordinate, linkable by and: c.f. hypotaxis, where causal linkages shown], c.f. autobiography, where narrative requires conjunction/transition between bits or events.

Parataxis shares logic of database, which is basically list of fundamentally unordered items [until ordered by running e.g. a query]

Autobiography is retrospective and linear: diary isn't.

Links [<a href=…>] can provide some order within OD: they provide multiple ways of organising data/text, hence enabling reader to browse along path of choice: see complexity of [Still going, and excellent, with: 1. Hierarchical Table of Contents 2. Table of Contents in Reverse Chronological Order 3. Table of Contents in Forward Chronological Order]

Contrast between weblog and web journal ["with its connotations of greater distance and detachment"]

With ODs being linked in Webrings, reader can read latest entries in multiple ODs [cui bono?]. Reference to 'blurbs, e.g. Artists, with list of 79 online journals, and Autumn Leaves, with 31 golden oldies' ODs. [No trace of either today]

1 comment:

  1. Tony,

    Have enjoyed looking at your blog (even if I don't understand a word of it)! Hope you are able to edit or delete this nonsense. And thanks for your help earlier this evening.