Tag Archives: internet

Harvested at Random

Reed’s post reminded me that the Randomiser is probably the best thing about NaBloPoMo. Here is a list of blogs I like:

Un-bloggy blogs:

Sketch of the Day – a treat and a treasure – grown-up sketches by a grown-up person described with wit and posted every day.

Le Pen Quotidien – another daily drawing blog, less assured and established, but still worth clicking through.

Things I’m Grateful For – an unconsciously thought-provoking private blog which could almost be an exercise in narrative style; it makes no concessions for the reader, neither bothering to explain context nor trying to engage your emotions. Oddly compelling, though I should warn you that it includes animated smileys.

Can I sit with you – a collection of fictional or fictionalised pieces by different authors about the general awfulness of school; the bloggers intend publishing the best via Lulu. A productive use the blogosphere.

From this you’ll see I’m not very interested in diaries, pregnancy, lactation, the extreme cuteness of the writer’s blogspawn, their relationship with their darling husband, recipes, church-bases socialising, or their dating and social lives. Those blogs give pleasure to their authors and do me no harm, but I don’t drop by twice.

Two exceptions might prove to be:

Shelves in my mind – the sort of blog I’d like to write; short considered pieces which examine everyday life with thought and humour. The writer is an American mother in the UK who writes thoughtfully and unsentimentally about her life.

Dairy Daze – More interesting for the quirk of the situation (a city girl who’s now a dairy farmer) than for anything else. Engaging though, particularly if you are interested in rural life in the 21st century, which I am.


Once daily, thrice weekly

Newspaper columnists always fascinated me. In the dim and distant days of the 1970s there was one columnist per Sunday broadsheet – about four all told – and by and large the essays they wrote were interesting and some of them even bore re-publication. Then in the 1980s onwards, print media exploded and every paper had three or four columnists – the political one, the motherhood-is-wonderful-no-no-really-it-is one, the single-female one, and the barking mad one. And now, of course, with 2.0 we are all columnists because the attraction of writing a column, surely, must be the sound of one’s own voice.

I’ll make no bones that what I am doing here is trying my arm at think-pieces to see at what point I run out of subjects which interest me about which I have some degree of coherent thinking. I don’t aspire to daily originality. Daily coherence is hard enough.

Daily blogging has changed how I think about what I think. My attention is no longer drawn to a subject on the radio or in my reading or in daily events so that I can while away time musing aimlessly on it. Now I muse with attention and purpose. Which is in itself quite interesting from this side of my cranial cavity.

However, daily blogging is time consuming, and I am about to enter 10 week period when I must focus on more Serious Real Life efforts. I feel a mixture of relief and guilt at cutting my blogging back to three times a week. I feel like I am sneaking myself off the hook and masking it with falsely superior motives. But I could displace for my country, and blogging is the most entertaining displacement activity I currently have available. It beats doing the ironing hands down. But, since blogging will neither buy the baby a new bonnett nor get the days work done, I have to blog less.

Besides which, if I reduce the quantity, maybe I can improve the quality.

Oh to be a linguist, now two point zero’s here….

Don’t you find what’s happening to the written language compelling? It is changing before our eyes, even faster than spoken languages change, and it is impossible to tell what written English will look like in a couple of decades time.

I am not convinced that standards are falling which is the easy and elitist assumption to make. Sure, printed English used to be grammatically correct and impeccably spelled, (unless it was printed by the Gruniad). But this was not because of the journalists’ English teachers. Newspaper offices had shelves of books on correct English to guide their journalists, and even then their writing would go through the ruthless filter of the sub-editor and the compositor, who had books of their own to guide them on the presentation of written English.

Web 2.0 axiomatically provides you with unedited and unfiltered access to what people want to say to you but, as I’ve said, it exposes their illiteracy.

The proportion of literate to illiterate texts we see has changed. We have returned to the Medieval directness of communication not seen since Caxton and the printing press. Now, what you see is what I wrote.

It is going to be interesting to see whether literacy is more valued because it is more needed, and if the written language will take on variances similar to those in the spoken language. There is a doctoral thesis waiting for funding on the subject of txtspk and l33t as dialects.

People already have different voices and standards for instant messaging (where speed is of the essence), for discussion forums (where language is informal and urgent), and for blogs (which are more like show-case pieces). But the written language is changing in other ways, <example purpose=”to illustrate the point”> the use of pseudo-tags in emails, posts or other text </example>. This crosses over. I know of several people who include stage directions in their conversations. *smiles whimsically*

I am trying really hard not to use the word “meme” here.

I guess I am curious about three things:

  • Will literacy be more highly valued by cyber-skiving kids?
  • Will the general standard of literacy be driven down by the sheer volume of illiterate texts we expose ourselves to?
  • To what extent will the written language take on features previously exclusive to spoken languages such as dialect and voice?

Oh to be a linguist now 2.0’s here.