I can’t see myself following the “blogging futures” thing all that closely. As I suggested before the free-for-all, prompt-driven format might be a bit too messy and disorganized for my brain. Maybe if such open chains were producing an RSS feed somewhere that made them easier to follow?
Reading through Brendan Schlagel’s call for megastructures, I can’t even see where CJ Eller’s “open blogchain” format fits in. It’s not really a Chain, which Schlagel and I both seem to think should be “a straightforward back and forth exchange”. Nor is it a Mesh, which he argues still should have an “alternating / round-robin style”. I suppose it could be considered a Fractal?
I do think it’s helpful, as Schlagel does, to bring up the old-fashioned group blog as a point of reference here, as the blogchain in a sense is a topic-specific group blog distributed between or among different blog sites. (Personally, I don’t see a real need for the Chain/Mesh distinction. Rather, I think as long as the method deployed is an alternating or round-robin format, we can still consider it a blogchain.) In thinking about these “megastructures”, Schlagel draws himself back to the central and perennial question of “just what is a blog in the first place”.
Schlagel identifies a blog not just by its reverse chronological nature but by some things being talked about a lot lately in the wake of the Lambert and Warzel gripes about the death of paid, professional blogging.
But we can also identify blogging by something less tangible, more of a stance or ethos for written exploration. I tend to think of blogging as “thinking out loud”, a combination of personal essay, journaling, brainstorming and public memo.
This shared ethos, as Schlagel puts it, has been part of blogging from the beginning, but the rise of VC-backed blogmills where blog posts were professional product rather than personal process kind of derailed it.
In the end, this “thinking out loud” aspect of blogging is part of what makes blogging into something else, too: what John Johnston calls a “remembrance engine”—something somewhat akin to the commonplace book, except that through the magic of the hyperlink, all our remembrances (or, well, okay, some subset of them, as we choose) become intertwined.