Rettberg Blogging Chapter 5

CHAPTER 5 - BLOGS AS NARRATIVES -
-blogging is form of narrative
-blogging is form of self-representation
-narratives are structured in certain ways that are diff from ways narratives in movies/novels organized.

-episodic style of writing that leads to partic kinds of narrative structure.
-diaries and earlier hypertext fictions are antecedents.
-blogging is form of life-writing or autobiography.

-Fragmented narratives - most obvious diff between blogs & novel:
-blog stories told in brief episodes.
-each post has beginning and end.
-each post can be read on its own.
-posts, all together, create larger story.

-episodic narrative - established format
-soap operas, TV serials/series, comic books, serially published fiction.
-blog posts much briefer than most episodes.
-not 'cliffhangers.'
-not always clear sense of continuity between posts.

-forerunner is hypertext fiction.
-late 80's - HyperCard, StorySpace
-Michael Joyce - afternoon, a story - 1990
-first hypertext fiction.
-written before Web existed - published as stand-alone piece of software.
-many small pieces of narrative - nodes or lexias - connected by links.
-diff than blog cuz when reader begins it, is clearly a finished work.
-blog diff cuz reader can't know if/when blog ever ends.
-questions are not necessarily resolved for reader.
-90's - hypertext fiction moves online.
-<ex>-The Unknown - '98 - narrated by fictional characters w/ same names as authors. -book tour - hundreds densely interlinked nodes.
-more similar to blog than traditional novel.
-written over years.
-interlinked fragments.
-reader doesn't know when ends.
-pages not dated so doesn't know which written first.

-Goal-oriented narrative - blog w/ clear project in mind.
-<ex>- The Date Project - guy determined to find girlfriend.
-successful project for author - not for readers - ends after 27-days.

-narrative structure of blog always projected forward.
-goal clearly stated.
-<ex>- another is She's aFlight Risk. - is at archive.org.
-narrative premise suits blogs cuz emphasis on process.
-<ex>-dieting blogs.

-Ongoing Narration - 'anticipation of retrospection is chief tool of making sense of narrative' - Brooks.
-means this: we read while knowing that there will BE an end & once reach it, can look back and see the whole.

-when blogs tell stories, is episodic form.
-each post makes sense by itself - when read together, tells larger story.
-overall story is perceived by piecing together fragments.
-<ex>-Kottke's blog and his wife's - posts from each give fragments of relationship - piece together to see unfold.
-both are filter blogs.
-bloggers often avoid writing directly about emotional/personal affairs. (filter blog - blogs w/ specific topic like technology, food, etc).

-episodic narratives ideal for our style of reading on Inet.
-Jakob Nielson - 97 - users DON'T read on Web - they scan and skim.
-has rules for bullet lists and bold keywords.
-emails, online newspapers, weblogs, FBook - don't follow these but do proved brief nuggets of text w/ ea making sense on own.
-people typically avoid reading long stuff on computer screen.

-weblogs obvious example of success of serial narrative on Web.

-<ex>-Justin Hall's, Justin's Links - very deliberate narration of blogger's life. (blech).
-is pioneer of online journaling.
-began writing of life in 94.
-temporality.
-posts make reader curious to read more.
-main fascination is this kind of narrative moves in same time frame as our own lives.
-NOVEL READER wants to reach end of story.
-BLOG READER hopes it never ends.

-most blogs end just cuz writer stops writing.
-death is one reason - usually someone ties up loose ends and posts for author.
-<ex>-Chronicles of Dr. Crazy - woman who wants to retain academic respect while having sex life - (who the hell would care about her issues?)
-felt trapped by persona they've developed and can't write as they wanna write.
-event can make stop blogging.
-<ex>-Justin Hall stops - crying on vid in 05 - can't have personal life and blog cuz people don't wanna be written about and they don't trust him. (duh - what a lameass).

-Blogs as self-exploration - (again, who the hell would wanna read that?)
-simultaneous mirros and veils.
-like when look in mirror and shape features to please us.
-so, create reflection of self in weblog.
-at same time, use blogs to veil ourselves - only tell certain aspects of self.
-pseudonumous blogs - play game of peek-a-boo.
-write in tone of voice like writing to close friend.
-but still tons of stuff not written about.
-photos cropped or eyes covered.
-have no links to archives.
-exist in the moment - autobiography of the now
-regular readers have long history and slow feeling of getting to know author. (this is entertainment today - reality TV - to me, is unappealing).

-Rebecca Blood - topic-driven blog, but sees blog as being useful self-reflective tool - sees sides of herself didn't realize.
-mirror.
-as opposed to Dr. Crazy - veil that ended up hiding what she wanted to explore. (why do this online? Isn't 'exploration' if hiding self, so why bother? Why blather about personal explorations? Get a life).
-simultaneous mirror/veil - exploring selves and hiding parts of selves - looking thru veil to communicate w/ readers (waste of time).

-Fictions/hoaxes -
- <ex>- Kaycee Nicole - teen w/ leukemia - even had blog of her mom writing her perspective.
-dies in 2001.
-online friends devastated.
-but then started seeing inconsistencies in posts.
-lotsa discussion and detective work - revealed as fake - Metafilter discussion threads.
-people furious - felt deceived and used.
-like H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds in 1938.
-both of these mimic medial genres that were fairly new.
-most fiction we encounter is clearly delimited.
-w/ War of the Worlds, these conventions not established.
-w/ blogs, they may never be established.
-Web doesn't present closed, whole works like a book does or TV/movies do.
-Web is not part of Gutenberg parenthesis.
-fiction not clearly marked as fiction.
-War of Worlds done for art/entertainment.
-woman who did Kaycee no clear motive.
-<ex>- vid blog, lonelygirl15 - 16-year-old - Bree - posts vid blog entries to YouTube every few days during summer 06.
-typical vids at first - story gets more strange - home-schooled - parents very restrictive - family members of sect/cult - Bree has to be in upcoming ritual - so had strange diet requirements and had to learn ancient language.
-had good friend Daniel who posted to YouTube, too.
-September 06 - revealed as hoax.
-carefully scripted by screenwriters/filmmakers.
-Bree was character played by actress.
-diff from Kaycee cuz designed as fiction from start - hired actors.
-creators admitted was experiment in new forms cinematic storytelling - (successful?? apparently depended on people believing it was real, so how can it be valid 'experiment?')
-readers/viewers furious cuz felt tricked - had gotten emotionally invested in it.
-participation in stuff like this is beyond what we feel for characters we know are fictional.
-might get emotional about book/movie, but are protected emotionally by knowledge that is not reality.
-this knowledge not there for those following lonelygirl15.
-hell, even the name is meant to create emotional response - lonelygirl.
-gaming the system -
-Kaycee Nicole's friends thought were on equal footing w/ what turned out to be fictional characters.
-felt had been used.

-blogs diff from traditional print or cinematic narratives -
1) are episodic and published in same time frame as readers' lives.
2) not driven towards ending.
-not driven towards closure.
3) boundaries between fiction and hoax lots more shaky.

-as blogs develop:
-may develop more conventions that make them less susceptible to concerns re: truth vs. fiction.
-may see more blog narratives that are explicitly fictional & don't attempt to fool readers.