Why I Blog
Andrew Sullivan's "Why I Blog" from The Atlantic will probably be the most quoted thing on the internet for the next few days. So here are a few quick excerpts for faking your way through conversations:
A novelist can spend months or years before committing words to the world. For bloggers, the deadline is always now. Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.
But a blog, unlike a diary, is instantly public. It transforms this most personal and retrospective of forms into a painfully public and immediate one. It combines the confessional genre with the log form and exposes the author in a manner no author has ever been exposed before.
The blogger can get away with less and afford fewer pretensions of authority. He is -- more than any writer of the past -- a node among other nodes, connected but unfinished without the links and the comments and the track-backs that make the blogosphere, at its best, a conversation, rather than a production.
Alone in front of a computer, at any moment, are two people: a blogger and a reader. The proximity is palpable, the moment human -- whatever authority a blogger has is derived not from the institution he works for but from the humanness he conveys. This is writing with emotion not just under but always breaking through the surface. It renders a writer and a reader not just connected but linked in a visceral, personal way. The only term that really describes this is friendship. And it is a relatively new thing to write for thousands and thousands of friends.
A good blog is your own private Wikipedia.
People have a voice for radio and a face for television. For blogging, they have a sensibility.
To blog is therefore to let go of your writing in a way, to hold it at arm's length, open it to scrutiny, allow it to float in the ether for a while, and to let others, as Montaigne did, pivot you toward relative truth.
The triumphalist notion that blogging should somehow replace traditional writing is as foolish as it is pernicious. In some ways, bloggings gifts to our discourse make the skills of a good traditional writer much more valuable, not less. The torrent of blogospheric insights, ideas, and arguments places a greater premium on the person who can finally make sense of it all, turning it into something more solid, and lasting, and rewarding.